Notre Dame, Brian Kelly Learning The Winning Ways; Hope Brought To South Bend

Dan ScofieldAnalyst INovember 21, 2010

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20: Robert Hughes #33 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates his touchdown with teammates agianst the Army Black Knights at Yankee Stadium on November 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

It may not seem like much to outsiders, but Notre Dame has completely dominated their previous two opponents.

No touchdowns given up, a defense playing as strong as ever, and a freshman quarterback looking like a seasoned veteran leading his team through the air with his arm. When would this have ever been a reality to any member of Notre Dame nation, just weeks after devastating back-to-back losses to Navy and Tulsa?

Now, the reality is that is actually is a reality.

Notre Dame now sits at 6-5, with one game to play before heading to a bowl game. And that game, of course, happens to be the end-all of all football games. The Irish go into their clash with USC with their heads high, motivated, and with something they aren't use to as of late: a winning streak and success.

Fans have been calling for many things, but maybe none more than adjustments in-game. As we saw yesterday, and against Utah, Brian Kelly and his staff did just that, holding their opponents to zero touchdowns. Linebackers looked quick to the football, the defensive line produced plenty of pressure, and intensity was sky-high.

Maybe nothing was as promising however, as the post-game celebration of a team in need of success more than anyone. As Kelly gave praise to the defensive staff, the team chanted and basked defensive coordinator Bob Diaco in cheers.

A beautiful night at Yankee Stadium, which started as a complaint-filled game when originally scheduled, ended up being one of the most memorable games in recent history, thanks to the ideal ending in all ways.

Again, it was Army. But on the other spectrum, it was an above-average Army team that was held to zero touchdowns while running the same offense that shredded Notre Dame's defense just weeks ago.

Wins against an overrated Utah team and a decent Army team may not seem like much, but they're a start. A win against USC would only push the success over the edge. Recruiting is gaining momentum, the team is improving, and Kelly is learning how to coach wearing the blue and gold.

Who knows how long this feeling of success will last? After all, Notre Dame has been the king of letdowns the past decade, crushing the hopes and hearts of fans year after year with inconsistent play.

Then again, it is a start--and a good one at that. Southern California awaits in the shadows, serving as the measuring stick for Notre Dame's season once again. And the more success that comes into Brian Kelly's door, the more options that will be presented to this team.

A win, and the program will be on full-swing upwards heading into a decent bowl game.

A loss, equipped with a step-back, a .500 record to end Kelly's first year, and a bowl game that will struggle to even make television.

But until then, it's time to enjoy this feeling of winning. It's something Irish fans haven't been blessed with for awhile now, and now that it's here, maybe it will be here to stay.