Sep 8, 2012, 9:27 PM EDT
It has often been said, “There are two certainties in life – death and taxes.”
Well, I think there are three.
As the years come and go, the story remains – Notre Dame football will always give me heart palpitations.
It was not easy, but the Fighting Irish came away with a 20-17 victory over its in-state foe Purdue, thanks in part to a 27-yard field goal by sophomore Kyle Brindza with just seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
After a 38-10 win in West Lafayette last season, some probably expected head coach Brian Kelly‘s squad to have an easy time in today’s home opener. But such was not the case on this perfect September Saturday afternoon. The Boilermakers are a much better football team than most Notre Dame fans will ever give them credit for.
Today’s game won’t be up for any ESPY Awards or Game of the Year nominations, but this afternoon turned out to be one of the most feel-good Irish football wins I’ve ever had the chance to witness, and Brindza’s kick was just the beginning.
No matter which Irish quarterback gets your vote to be the starter, you have got to smile for junior Tommy Rees who came into the game with 2:12 remaining and guided the offense on a 12-play, 55-yard drive to set up the winning field goal.
The memorable thing about Goody’s catch was that it came on a play where Rees “pulled a Chris Webber,” trying to call a timeout the Irish did not have.
The first home game of the season always generates a lot of excitement, but there was an added buzz when Notre Dame fan Vince Vaughn and his buddy Owen Wilson were spotted near the Basilica following the team’s Mass this afternoon. Some fans started wondering if a Wedding Crashers 2 was in the works. With all the movies he has starred in, it often goes overlooked, but Vaughn got his start right here at Notre Dame, when he had a small role in Rudy as Irish halfback Jamie O’Hara.
Though they were dressed like they were in fact, ready to crash a wedding, Vaughn and Wilson were just here for a good time. By total chance, I was right next to the pair of “Frat Pack” stars during Brindza’s field goal, and had the opportunity to celebrate the winning kick with them and a few friends on the sideline.
As a 2011 graduate, Purdue’s 4th-and-10 game-tying touchdown had me flashing back to the heartbreaking losses the Irish have experienced over the past few seasons. I feared the worst, that today was destined to end in a similar fashion.
But Notre Dame was different this afternoon. Our beloved Irish are 2-0 for the first time since my sophomore year (2008), and they will head to East Lansing, Mich. next weekend for what is sure to be their toughest test of the young season – an 8 pm nationally-televised (ABC) showdown with #11 Michigan State.
We’ve seen a different attitude this season – poise, confidence, swagger – whatever you want to call it. Only time will tell if the team’s demeanor carries through the 2012 campaign. With one of the toughest schedules in the country, I can only assume we’re in for a few more closely contested battles over the next few months.
But hey, if games finish like this afternoon’s did, I’ll accept those weekly chest pains.
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