For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Sunday evening marked a seminal moment in Brian Kelly's tenure—his Irish found themselves in the Top Five of the BCS Standings.
Take a moment, Irish fans, and enjoy the success. The Irish are only halfway done with the season, but they stand among the country's best right now, and that's something that has not been true for quite some time.
Now, after that moment to relish in the success fades, stand up and accept the arguments from the haters. You know the ones: Notre Dame has not played anyone, Notre Dame is still a terrible team, Notre Dame is overrated, Notre Dame would get killed by teams X, Y and Z. The list goes on.
And right now, they are partially correct. Notre Dame has not played anyone. That is, if the term "anyone" refers to an elite football team.
Michigan and Michigan State have been wild disappointments this season. The Wolverines are a one-man team, and that one man was a turnover machine in South Bend. Michigan State is a team with no offense with whom the Irish were able to have their way on the road. Navy, Purdue and Miami left plenty to be desired.
That brings us to Stanford. The Cardinal may have upset USC, but this team is a one-dimensional squad that is still trying to get used to life after Andrew Luck. Notre Dame got a win, but Stanford, if you've been watching, is a team that's still far from the ranks of the elite.
But don't freak out; Notre Dame can only play the teams that are set in front of them. It's not the fault of Jack Swarbrick, Brian Kelly, Manti Te'o or even NBC that the teams the Irish have beaten aren't much good.
Luckily, from a BCS standings and a critic-silencing standpoint, Notre Dame has plenty of time to shut folks up. The schedule, in the back half, has got two tests that, for now, look better than anyone Notre Dame has seen thus far: Oklahoma and USC.
Both teams can sling the ball around as a way to attack the Irish's Achilles heel, their secondary. Both teams can also run on defense, which will force Notre Dame to be more consistent on offense.
There is not much the Irish can do to abate the criticism right now. If they hate, then let 'em hate. Beat BYU and rise higher in the BCS standings.
When challenges present themselves, the Irish have to take care of them.
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