For Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans this was the perfect way to open the 2012 season. The Irish never trailed, dominated on offense and defense and limited their turnovers while forcing Navy into four.
However, the question that has to be on Irish fans' minds is, “Will this blowout win lead to a season that ends with a BCS Bowl Game?”
The victory today over Navy was the Fighting Irish’s largest point differential (40) to start a season in the last 10 years. Plus, in that 10 year span, the Fighting Irish have never opened a season scoring 50 points.
What should encourage Notre Dame fans is that they dominated today on offense with two of their key starters not playing.
With quarterback Tommy Rees and running back Cierre Wood suspended, Notre Dame was able to put together a well-balanced attack combining for 490 yards.
Without Rees, Notre Dame’s passing game threw for a competent 197 passing yards from first-time starter Everett Golson.
However, a big reason for Notre Dame’s contention for a BCS berth is their running game. Without Wood, the Irish were able to rip through Navy for 293 rushing yards, with Theo Riddick leading the team with 107 yards.
But, one shellacking of a team that went 5-7 in 2011 could be viewed by some Irish fans as building up too much hope only to see Notre Dame finish with a 8-4 or 7-5 record.
To which I say that will not happen this year.
This blowout victory proves that if Rees' struggles the offense can turn its focus to a deep stable of running backs. Or, if Rees is reverting back to his level of play in 2011 where he threw 14 interceptions, they have a backup who looked like he can play mistake free.
Looking ahead at Notre Dame’s schedule, you’ll see that they have some of their toughest games at home.
They’ll play No. 8 Michigan and No. 21 Stanford in South Bend, where last year against these teams the Irish had to go on the road, which ended up in tough losses for the club. Plus, this year when they play Stanford and No. 13 Michigan State, they will be facing new starting quarterbacks.
With an offense that looks to be as explosive as any Notre Dame team in the last 10 years, a defense that is led by five seniors and three juniors and a schedule that favors the Fighting Irish, this should be a year that ends with Notre Dame playing in one of the four BCS bowl games.