Notre Dame is staring at a 9-0 record with a BCS bowl berth well within reach. The wins have piled on this year with a strong defense and a little luck leading the way. The luck of the Irish has been coming in heavy doses lately, with a little extra coming this Saturday against Pitt.
Every undefeated team can look back and point to a fumble or punt that landed the right way, but few teams have witnessed the number of lucky charms that Notre Dame has this season.
When the season finishes and Notre Dame is standing undefeated, it won’t really matter how the Irish got there. After Saturday’s ugly overtime win, it is impossible not to mention the gold-plated path.
Looking back at the turning points for the Irish, here are the five reasons why the Irish are the luckiest team in the country.
Notre Dame was prepped for a letdown game and it almost came Saturday. The Pitt Panthers marched into South Bend and took the Irish to three overtime periods, almost winning the game in the second OT period with a field goal.
The Panthers had the game sealed 20-12 with a little more than three minutes remaining, but Notre Dame was able to regain the ball and march down the field for a score. A quarterback run by Everett Golson earned a two-point conversion forcing overtime.
A pass-interference call that wasn't helped the scoring drive continue on a fourth-down play, further solidifying the luck of the Irish throughout the season.
When overtime hit, the Irish had the momentum, but Cierre Wood fumbled the football into the end zone attempting to score, and it was recovered by Pitt for a touchback. All Pitt needed was a field goal.
After driving the ball and squaring up the kick, Pitt attempted the game-winning field goal and missed. Notre Dame scored a touchdown in the third overtime, walking away with the win. A win is a win, but this was way too close for comfort against a very mediocre opponent for the Irish.
It was a rainy night in South Bend, and the Irish were fighting to stay alive as an undefeated team against a tough Stanford team. The Cardinal had forced overtime and were about to drive into the end zone to tie the ball game and force another overtime period.
After consecutive stops at the goal line, the Irish escaped victorious and have continued their climb up the polls. This was the first major win that pushed Notre Dame into the national conversation because of the controversy that surrounded the call.
On both the third- and fourth-down push, it appeared that Stepfan Taylor had made it across the goal line for the touchdown. On the fourth-down play, the ball did cross the plain of the goal, but the play had been ruled dead.
Many Stanford fans still contest that this win should carry an asterisk.
Tommy Rees has been a name synonymous with cringes of fear in the Notre Dame stands in the past, but this season Rees has been clutch for the Irish.
Everett Golson had led the Irish to a lead in the game against Purdue, but a late drive by the Boilermakers tied the game. Golson had been injured in the game, making way for Tommy Rees to come off of the bench cold and attempt a two-minute drill, game-winning drive.
Rees went only 3-for-8 on the drive, but a 21-yard completion to Robby Toma led to a big gain and momentum swing on third down for the Irish. A few plays later, Notre Dame kicked the game-winning field goal.
The once suspended signal-caller was the savior for the Irish and the 2012 season.
The win over Michigan may not have been pretty, but it was a game that came with the help of six Wolverines turnovers.
Turnovers are earned, so that isn’t an entirely lucky thing to happen, but six of them are bordering a lucky stroke. That is not a normal game output or intake for any team.
The Irish also had a steady performance from Tommy Rees for the second time in three weeks, helping guide the Notre Dame offense just enough to get the win.
Rees, having two strong performances, may actually be the luck factor.
Let’s face it, the Irish went into Norman and pulled out a big win over Oklahoma, but there was some help from the guys in stripes. There were a couple of calls that were absolutely missed by the officials in the game, but there was also a big interception that drew criticism.
Manti Te’o snagged an interception late in the game to help seal the win for Notre Dame, but reviews appeared to indicate that he had trapped the catch. Much like the touchdown run that wasn’t weeks prior, this catch lived on for weeks.
The Irish continued to push forward with a big win over Oklahoma in Norman with the win pushing them over the top in the Top Five. This was the biggest win of the season for the Irish and may have spring-boarded the lucky streak into a national title run.