"How did I miss that catch?!?!?!?!"
One Shining Moment: Ronald Johnson drops a sure touchdown after his defender had fallen down and he got behind the Irish secondary.
Some times it just takes a little luck to finally get over the hump and for the first time it what seemed like an eternity, Lady Luck seemed to be wearing Blue and Gold instead of the opposing team's colors. Over the course of the game there were multiple times where Trojan receivers bumbled catches that could've turned into huge, deflating third down conversions. As any Irish fan will attest, these good breaks have not been very common since Lou left town in 1996. Notre Dame Football seemed to be completely governed by Murphy's Law.
But there's no clearer evidence that Lady Luck finally was an Irish fan again than Ronald Johnson's drop. He took off on a post to the middle of the field and the Irish defender (Harrison Smith) slipped on the wet turf, allowing Johnson to run free for what appeared to be the back-breaking touchdown Notre Dame fans have become so accustomed to seeing. Mitch Mustain delivered a ball right on the money...and then a funny thing happened.
The ball hit the turf.
It was as if God had delivered a divine mandate that Notre Dame had experienced enough heartache and enough bad luck and their penance for whatever they'd done to tick him off was complete. Lady Luck reached out, tipped the ball out of Johnson's hands, and the Irish Faithful collectively exhaled.
Notre Dame Nation had been through a decade plus of bad breaks. From Jarious Jackson's freak injury against LSU in '98 to Ron Israel slipping and falling on the Michigan State logo in 2000 to Matt Leinart's perfect pass, a terrible spotting of the ball, and an illegal push in '05 to Duval Kamara slipping on the ultimate play of last year's contest. As Brian Kelly deadpanned in the post-game press conference, "It's about time we caught a break."
Make no mistake, this victory was not one based on luck. Notre Dame's defense completely dominated Southern Cal's offense the entire game and when the offense needed to it delivered a drive for the ages to emerge victorious. This was a victory the Fighting Irish earned through grit, determination, and execution.
But too many times over the last fifteen years Notre Dame performances that deserved victories didn't ultimately get rewarded with one (see: Nebraska in 2000, Southern Cal in 2005, etc.). Saturday night Lady Luck was finally in Notre Dame's corner again and on what should have been the dagger that devastated the Irish Faithful, she smiled and gave a little wink as that Mitch Mustain pass to Ronald Johnson fell incomplete.
A tip of the cap to you, my lady. It's good to have you back in the fold.