This is the best that Notre Dame can do?
The Irish have no shot at a national title with performances like this. They shouldn't even be a top-25 team with a performance like this. They had to barely squeak this one out with three fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Against Purdue. The same Purdue that got destroyed by Cincinnati 45-7. The same Purdue that barely beat FCS team Indiana State 20-14. The same Purdue that had no business coming within two touchdowns of Notre Dame.
This was just embarrassing. Now, it's one thing to lose to Michigan in the Big House. And it's not like beating Temple 28-6 is really any accomplishment, either. The Fighting Irish just aren't the same caliber team that they were last year at all.
They are barely a top-25 team—if they even are one—and should suffer a couple big losses this year if they keep playing this poorly. Their schedule does not get easier than it is right now.
Next week, they get a 3-0 Michigan State team to start a run where their four opponents are a combined 9-1—and depending on the Arizona State result, could be 10-1. This will only test their ability to even repeat as an eight-win team this year.
And a big reason why they won't be the same caliber team is their poor quarterback situation with Tommy Rees as the starter instead of the preferred Everett Golson. Golson made the 2012 Fighting Irish a team that could have beaten anyone.
Rees makes the 2013 version a team that can lose to anyone. And unfortunately, the Irish defense isn't half of what it was last season, either. It is missing the heart and soul that Manti Te'o and Zeke Motta were in the middle of it.
Yeah, they had an interception return for a touchdown. But two straight games allowing 24-plus points? That would have been unacceptable for the 2012 team. There isn't the same kind of urgency to the ball this season or ability to react in the passing game last year's team had.
Overall, the Fighting Irish just don't have a mystique this year. They seem bland. Boring. Like there's no passion for the game that last year's team had. And maybe they needed this to be a true wake-up call so they don't do it in another game this year.
But as they are right now, they're playing like a team with a BCS national title game hangover. They are playing like a team that didn't deserve to even be there last year and surely won't be there again this year.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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