Brian Kelly's Irish will not be defined by their game against Oklahoma.
Hold your breath folks, here comes the big one.
In just under 36 hours, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take the field at the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, seeking, for what many would call, a season-defining victory.
For others, the hope is that this Notre Dame team, which has been mentioned as a BCS National Title contender for the first time in a decade, will be exposed by a bigger, stronger Sooners team.
The naysayers were once again out in full-force this week, after the Irish struggled to hold on to a narrow 17-14 victory over BYU at Notre Dame Stadium this past Saturday.
For that crowd, the result was validation of their pre-existing narrative. So the logic goes—Notre Dame is a creation of their own hype and a college football fan base desperate for their return to glory.
Some have even taken the argument further, insinuating that the ending of the Stanford game was proof of some grand NCAA conspiracy to get the Irish back on top.
Now there will always be Notre Dame haters.
And most are not worth arguing with.
Sure the Irish have beaten three teams ranked in the preseason Top 15. Sure they have one of the, if not the best, top defenses in the nation, led by Manti Te'o, who might just be the best player in all of college football.
In the eyes of the Notre Dame hater, none of this matters.
Oklahoma will surely expose the Irish.
Make no mistake about it, Oklahoma is no joke, especially on their field. In 14 seasons at Oklahoma, do you know how many games Bob Stoops' teams have lost at home coming into this season?
That's not a typo.
Oklahoma had lost just three times at home under Bob Stoops, and Kansas State achieved the feat earlier this year making it four.
So those who think it'll be easy are just as crazy as those who give the Irish no shot at all. And it's just as crazy as those who feel this game will totally define the season.
If Notre Dame wins it will certainly be the biggest win in recent memory for a school that was once perennial championship contenders, but who have fallen on hard times, not hoisting the championship trophy in more than 20 years.
Will it be season-defining? Only in the sense that it will lend further credence to the idea that this team is for real.
But the naysayers will likely just move on to their next sour grape.
"Wait until they get exposed by USC," they'll say, you can already hear it now, can't you? Before that it was Stanford, and Michigan and Michigan State.
But none of that matters to Brian Kelly or his team. A win over Oklahoma will be simply that—a win over Oklahoma.
And then it's onto the next task.
Time to start game-planning for Pitt.
Will it be a huge psychological boost? Sure, for both the team and its fans.
But Coach Brian Kelly and his bunch didn't come into this season with the goal of just beating Oklahoma.
And even if they did, the bar has now been raised. And Oklahoma has become just the latest, and toughest, step towards the ultimate goal—Miami, Florida on Jan. 7.