Top 10 moments from 2012: No. 2

No. 2 marks the arrival of Notre Dame as a legit national title contender.

As always, my mailbag is open to hear your suggestions on rankings such as these.

Oct. 27, 2012: Brown catch leads to big fourth in upset at OU (Stories here and here)

A three-point home win over a so-so BYU team a week earlier hardly had anyone convinced that 7-0 Notre Dame was ready for a trip to Norman, Okla.

College GameDay was on-hand for this one, too. So were an Owen Field-record 86,031 fans, who did a nice job of striping the stadium for a candy cane-like look of alternating red and white sections. And for three quarters, the contest looked like it had the chance to become a classic.

Then Everett Golson hit rookie Chris Brown on a 50-yard fourth-quarter completion — the first catch of Brown's career — setting off 17 straight points for an Irish team that went on to win 30-13.

Manti Te'o had a devastating sack of Landry Jones and recorded a diving interception late. Blake Bell did score the first rushing touchdown of the season against the Irish, but in the end it hardly mattered.

Golson turned the corner as a quarterback in this game, completing 13 of 25 passes for 177 yards and rushing for a score. The Irish dominated the lines of scrimmage. No. 5 Notre Dame upset No. 8 Oklahoma, giving the Sooners their second home loss of the season. The Irish won their fourth game of the season against a Top 25 team. They held an offense that had averaged 44.7 points per game to 31 points under par.

The Irish were back, officially. And they received contributions from all over in getting there -- none bigger than the one delivered by a true freshman who entered with zero career catches.


No. 10: Rees replaces Golson on final drive, leads Irish to win over Purdue

No. 9: Irish open season in Dublin with rout of Navy

No. 8: ND gets revenge on Robinson, UM in night win to cap perfect opening month

No. 7: ND survives missed FG, missed penalty and 3 OT scare from Pitt to stay perfect

No. 6: Notre Dame tours award circuit after perfect regular season

No. 5: Notre Dame joins ACC, will play five ACC games per year in football

No. 4: Irish rout Wake on Senior Day, ascend to No. 1

No. 3: Goal-line stand stuffs Stanford in OT