No. 1 Notre Dame is on the biggest stage in college football tonight, taking on No. 1 Alabama in the much-anticipated, much-hyped Discover BCS National Championship.
The Irish went 3-0 against the ACC this season en route to their 12-0 mark. But ACC fans can cheer about one thing -- the last team to beat Notre Dame was Florida State, 18-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl in December 2011. Not sure if that is enough to get everybody cheering, but at least that is one ACC win in the last four tries.
Now, with the spotlight on Notre Dame, I thought I would take a look back at the three victories the Irish posted on the ACC in 2012 -- both as a way to preview the game tonight and also take a gander into the future. Remember, Notre Dame will begin playing five ACC games in the future.
To briefly summarize:
Notre Dame beat Miami, Boston College and Wake Forest by a combined 100-9. Ouch.
No ACC team scored a touchdown vs. Notre Dame this year.
The Irish held their three ACC opponents to an average of 264.7 yards per game, including an average of 64 yards on the ground.
So ACC teams will tell you the Irish were as good as advertised on defense this year.
Interestingly enough, the worst team in the ACC -- 2-10 Boston College -- played the Irish the best this season, gaining 300 yards of offense and losing by the smallest point margin (15). The Eagles had several opportunities that they simply could not cash in on, including a momentum-shifter in the second quarter.
After forcing a Notre Dame fumble to stop a drive deep in Eagles territory, Boston College could not get anything going offensively. Notre Dame got the ball back and scored to go up 14-3, essentially putting the game out of reach.
Miami had its opportunities early against Notre Dame, too. Phillip Dorsett dropped what would have been a touchdown on the game's opening play. He had another drop four plays later in the end zone. That ultimately set the tone, as things quickly unraveled for the Hurricanes.
As for Wake Forest, well, the Deacs clearly regressed from a year ago. In 2011, Wake nearly pulled the upset at home, losing 24-17. This season, they had 209 yards of total offense and nine first downs.
While none of these ACC teams made bowl games (Miami would have if not for self-imposed sanctions), Notre Dame played to its strengths. Defense. It is going to have to do the same against the Tide tonight to have a shot at a championship.