A Victory to be Proud Of

With their bowl hopes on the line, the Irish marched into Neyland Stadium and slugged out a victory over a depleted Tennessee team on Saturday. Their unlikely 17-13 victory over the Vols made the Irish bowl-eligible and left Irish fans with another Notre Dame moment—even if they fail to see it amongst all the inconsistency.

Many Irish fans won't know whether to rejoice, laugh or cry after Notre Dame's recent victory over Tennessee on Saturday. The victory continues to trend of inconsistent Irish play that Notre Dame fans have grown accustom to under head Tyrone Willingham, but the inspired play of Notre Dame's defense on Saturday was something Irish fans should be excited about.

While there was plenty to be disappointed about in Saturday's game, like 216 yards of total offense, 57 total yards in the second half, and 3-of-14 in third down opportunities, hopefully Irish fans won't miss the bright spot in all of this, this Irish team represented the University well.

While most fans aren't interested in silver linings--they want victories, and a lot of them--the reality is that the Irish could've easily just packed it in for the season.

I'm going to guess that the vast majority of Irish players didn't come to Notre Dame to play in the Tire Bowl, or even the Gator. They came to play in only one type of bowl-- BCS bowls.

With that in mind, and their recent crushing loss to Boston College, nobody would've been surprised to see the Irish going through the motions on Saturday, much as we saw in Syracuse last season.

But we didn't see that. From the opening kick off we saw a determined Irish defense. We saw a team refusing to lose--refusing to let what happened two weeks ago happen again.

Yes, the win came against a third-string quarterback, and yes Tennessee was banged up, but the Volunteers had much more to play for than the Irish, but you couldn't tell that on Saturday.

It wasn't a pretty win, but the Irish aren't a pretty team. They certainly have warts and some that remain unattended. But they found a way to win and I think that says a lot about the character of this team, regardless what some might feel about the coaching staff.

So as you grab your voodoo dolls this week and play the coaching carousel—and I'm not suggesting you are a bad person for doing so---just remember that this 6-3 Irish team is actually pretty special.

Despite all the negative surrounding a disappointing season, this Irish team plays with the heart of a champion, even if they don't have what many would consider championship talent and coaching.

This Irish victory might've been the most ugly of them all, but I think it shows, without question, how much these Irish players care about winning, despite whatever roadblocks they have to overcome.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories