The Notre Dame Fighting Irish punched their ticket to the BCS National Championship game with a 22-13 road victory over rival USC to close out the regular season.
At 12-0, Notre Dame is the only undefeated bowl eligible team remaining and will await the winner of the SEC Championship game.
For what seems like the 12th game this season, Notre Dame won it with defense, including a few key goal-line stands down the stretch.
While the Fighting Irish have been dominating with defense for most of the season, a young freshman quarterback has quietly emerged as one of the best young players at his position in all of college football.
There is no doubt that Everett Golson has had an up-and-down season, but he is certainly peaking at the right time, and it is paying dividends for Notre Dame.
While he is certainly not the talent of Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman front-runner Johnny Manziel, Golson has the potential to be a Heisman contender in the coming years.
Taking a play out of Manziel's playbook might just benefit him in the years to come. After all, the two are very similar in size and skill set.
Both Manziel and Golson are listed at 6'1", while Golson may not be quite as thick, when on the field, they are very similar in stature.
What sets Manziel apart from Golson is not necessarily his arm or his legs, but it is what he does with those legs: He is not afraid to run the football at any time during the game, and Golson would benefit from trying to mimic that.
Golson has only attempted 89 carries on the season, and while he does buy time to find open receivers, he has the potential to double his carries and help the Notre Dame offense put more points on the board.
Manziel has 184 carries and has proven to be effective near the goal line. Along with those 184 carries come nearly 1,200 yards with 19 touchdowns. That is one of the main reasons why the Aggies put so many points on the board—single-handedly from the legs of Manziel.
Upon closer review, the stats are obvious.
When Notre Dame gets near the goal line, instead of stalling, Golson's legs can help the Fighting Irish punch the ball in, as it gets much tougher to pass in the short field.
Coming into the USC game, Notre Dame was converting 50 percent of its red-zone appearances into touchdowns. Texas A&M on the other hand was converting over 70 percent heading into Saturday's game against Missouri.
While this is no fault to Golson, it might be an excellent idea for Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly to take a play out of Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin's playbook and let Golson loose near the goal line a little more.
That could be just what Notre Dame needs to spark an offense that struggles to score at times.
After all, when the Fighting Irish go up against a team like Alabama or Georgia in the national championship game, it may be that slight edge that Notre Dame needs to pull off one more upset and cap off a magical season with a national championship victory.
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