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Watching Alone

Sep 15, 2013, 1:34 AM EDT

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Sometime during the fourth quarter of tonight’s game, someone came into the room where I was watching the game.

“Craig,” she said. “If I charge my phone in here and we lose, will you promise not to break it? Pat says you’ll break it.”

I’m pretty sure I haven’t broken anything after an Irish loss, but I don’t really blame Pat for saying that. I’m in an altered state of mind during Notre Dame games, especially in nailbiters against three-touchdown underdogs.

When I’m watching a game on TV, I can’t handle being around lots of people. It’s not because I’m super anti-social (well, maybe it is). When Notre Dame students congregate for games, generally the conversation strays from classes and last weekend just long enough to fit in a “Yay, touchdown!” or “Aww, fumble.”

If I end up in a group that wants to discuss formation tendencies and linebacker coverages during commercial breaks, I’ll happily watch a game with them. Alas, that was not my company tonight. I tried – I really did. But after Purdue drove down the field and then forced a Notre Dame punt, I couldn’t take it anymore. It was my first game watching on TV at Notre Dame since Boston College last year.

So that’s how I ended up in Pat’s room (I forgot my TV back home), watching the game by myself. Which was probably good, since the ranting and cursing would only freak out the people who aren’t as familiar with my joyous demeanor as Pat is.

These games are tough to write about because the bottom line is that it’s a win. Last year we played poor games against Purdue and Pittsburgh in close fashion en route to the national championship game. Good teams have hiccups.

Yes, we got the win, and yes, this team has the talent to be good. The last three games have shown that Tommy Rees has the ability to be an excellent game manager, especially the way he bounced back from his rough start tonight. DaVaris Daniels is looking more and more like a breakout receiver.

But I said last week that this team needs an identity, and I think that’s still true. On defense it’s clear that we’re missing not only Manti Te’o, but also Motta, Lewis-Moore, and Spond. Our run defense was very good, but giving up 24 points to an offense that had a combined 20 against Cincinnati and Indiana State doesn’t bode well.

Am I asking too much? Should I be happy with the win and say “Yay, touchdown!” with everyone else? Maybe. But I’m a pretty demanding fan. If I can stay in the room with everyone else, it’s probably a good day. Is that too much to ask?

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