The 2012 Notre Dame football season has been a memorable ride so far as the Irish — unheralded in August entering head coach Brian Kelly’s third season in South Bend — have rolled through a tough schedule and emerged 12-0.
The ride ends tonight when the No. 1 Fighting Irish take on No. 2 Alabama in the BCS Championship Game in Miami.
Here is a brief look back at the 2012 regular season:
Sept. 1, 2012
Notre Dame 50, Navy 10
The Irish’s trip to Dublin for the Emerald Isle Classic is a smashing success, as Notre Dame (1-0) rolls over Navy in sophomore QB Everett Golson’s debut as the Irish signalcaller.
Notre Dame racks up 490 yards in total offense, including 197 on Golson’s arm.
The Irish also get a defensive TD from defensive lineman Stefon Tuitt, who scoops up a Trey Miller fumble and rumbles 77 yards to the end zone.
The Irish defense does an excellent job of bottling up Navy’s triple-option offense, limiting it to 149 yards on 40 carries.
Sept. 8, 2012
Notre Dame 20, Purdue 17
It was Tommy Rees to the rescue in the Irish’s home opener, as the junior backup QB came off the bench late — entering the game to a chorus of boos from the Notre Dame student section — to lead a game-winning drive in the final two minutes that led the Irish to victory.
Notre Dame (2-0) led 17-7 at halftime before the Boilermakers rallied to tie it in the fourth quarter, setting up Rees’ final-drive heroics.
Golson was 21-of-31 for 289 yards with a passing TD and another score on the ground, but was pulled in favor of Rees late because head coach Brian Kelly felt more comfortable with Rees running the Notre Dame two-minute offense.
“This is not going to be an excuse for Everett that he’s pulled because of an injury,” Kelly said. “We also made the decision with the flow of the game that Tommy could come in there and manage our two-minute offense, and he did a great job.”