Notre Dame Football: Iconic Program on Right Track to BCS Glory

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches along with his team as the Irish take on the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After a disappointing 2011 season that saw the Notre Dame Fighting Irish finish 8-5 for the second year in a row, the team has addressed their biggest issues and currently hold a 5-0 record.

Another huge 41-3 win over longtime rival Miami proves that the Irish are back to being a legitimate contender and want a shot at BCS glory.

While there is no doubting that Notre Dame is far from perfect this season, the improved fundamentals of not turning the ball over and letting the running game open up the passing attack has made it very clear that the Fighting Irish are here to stay.

College football has been put on upset alert with a team like Notre Dame playing this well.


Quarterback Play

Quarterback controversy was the name of the game to start the season in South Bend, but the fact that sophomore Everett Golson won the starting job outright and has held it through five games proves how much the coaching staff thinks of the young player.

Despite being benched for the first offensive series for being late to a team function in Week 6 against Miami, Golson stepped right back into the starting lineup to throw for 186 yards and rush for another 51 yards.

Most importantly; no interceptions.

After the last two seasons were ruined because of costly mistakes, the Fighting Irish have done a great job so far in 2012 protecting the football and avoiding turnovers at all costs. While the team has a tough remaining schedule, as long as they protect the football, Notre Dame can win out.


Stout Defense

While the offense gets all the headlines, it is the stout Notre Dame defensive unit that has been the most impressive this season.

The Alabama Crimson Tide have the best defense in college football, but the fact that the Fighting Irish are holding their opponents to just 7.8 points per game is not only amazing, it ranks them No. 2 in the nation.

That’s very impressive from a unit that many felt was mediocre at best to start the season.

As good as the team’s defense has been so far this season, tough games against ranked opponents such as Stanford, Oklahoma and USC will test the young squad for the rest of the year.

If they can keep their composure, Notre Dame has a legitimate shot at going undefeated.


Rushing Attack

As much as the focus from the media was on the quarterback spot to start the season, the Fighting Irish realized that they must concentrate on the running game if they want a chance to improve their record this year.

With a talented trio in George Atkinson III, Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick, Notre Dame’s running game is one of the best in all of college football. At an impressive 41st in the nation, the rushing attack will open up all parts of the Irish offense.

There are three more ranked teams remaining on the schedule and other trap games as well, but none offer the kind of run-stoppers that foes like Michigan and Michigan State possessed.

If Notre Dame stays committed to the run and doesn’t abandon it when things get tough, the team will find BCS glory; maybe even a national title shot.


Check back for more on the NCAA Football as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s College Football page to get your fill of college football.