Notre Dame Football: Fighting Irish Built to Last for Years to Come

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IINovember 1, 2012

Oct. 27, 2012; Norman, OK, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly waits to take the field before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Notre Dame won 30-13. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Notre Dame’s success this season is no fluke and the Fighting Irish will prove this by beating the nation’s best teams in the coming years.

While key players such as linebacker Manti Te’o and tight end Tyler Eifert are seniors, the team still has talented underclassmen on both sides of the ball, like quarterback Everett Golson and defensive end Stephon Tuitt.

In addition, Brian Kelly has built the foundation on a top-level program, and the signature victories the team has recorded this season will serve as a catalyst in recruiting going forward. 

In particular, the win over Oklahoma will be looked back on as the point in which Notre Dame reemerged as a national powerhouse. 

The Fighting Irish have not finished ranked in the AP Top 25 since 2006, and the program has not been a perennial powerhouse in over a decade. The athletes coming out of high school right now do not remember the days of Bob Davie and Lou Holtz.

But names like Te’o and Tuitt will not be forgotten any time soon after the season this defense is having. With an average of 9.9 points allowed per game, the Irish has the second stingiest defense in the nation behind Alabama.

With wins over Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford and the Sooners this season, the team has proven multiple times that it is one of the best in the country on their way to an 8-0 record and the No. 3 rank in the BCS Standings

But going on the road and turning in a gutsy performance that included 20 fourth-quarter points and an extremely impressive 30-13 victory over one of the top programs of this past decade was far and away the most incredible result of the season.

The Irish will still need a stroke of good fortune to land in the national championship games as both Kansas State and Oregon will likely end up in the No. 2 spot if either team finishes its schedule without losing. 

But the program has already proven what it needed to in order to affirm its place among the nation’s elite teams. This win over Oklahoma will be looked back on as the game in which Kelly entrenched himself as a coach like Bob Stoops with the Sooners or Les Miles with LSU.

With a stable figure like Kelly as coach and young talent still on the roster, the Irish have the building blocks to be successful for a long period of time.