Finally, the sons of Notre Dame have marched on to the classic, season-defining, "Fighting Irish-style" win they have so badly needed this season (and likely for much longer). With their head coach constantly on the proverbial hot seat and concerns arising about their high powered offense whose potency and health were in question after a heart-wrenching loss to the University of Michigan two weeks previous, the Irish finally stepped up their game with a hard-nosed and hard-fought victory. And for the first time in years, the Golden Domers once again woke up the faintest inklings of the figurative echoes that whisper softly from the past about glories of yore.
Coming off a stunning victory over the previously #3 ranked USC Trojans last Saturday (16-13), the Washington Huskies were in the middle of a revitalization of their own. Emerging from a Ty Willingham-induced period of utter darkness (a difficulty the Irish know much about) that saw Washington go a dismal 0-12 last season, the Huskies came into South Bend intent on slaying another giant and proving that their previous week's victory was a sign of a return to prominence rather than a mere fluke of fate. The Irish, on the other hand, coming off a disappointing loss to Michigan and a "disappointing" win over Michigan State, were playing to prove their own legitimacy, for the job of their head coach, and for a tradition that has been battered and beaten brutally over the last 15 years.
Each team took the battlefield with profuse amounts of motivation, fire, and talent. And the result was nothing short of an all-out college football war. Both offenses moved the ball and put points on the board. Washington — led by the 6-3, 220-pound junior quarterback Jake Locker (22-40, 281 yards, 1 TD) — actually did most of their damage on the ground. Freshman running back Chris Polk gave the Irish defense fits all day, posting 136 yards on 22 carries. The aforementioned Locker also contributed to the ground game, totaling 33 yards and touchdown.
The Irish, per usual, focused most of their offensive attack on the aerial assault. Jimmy Clausen — who has been Heisman-worthy all season — enjoyed a career day, racking up a ridiculous 422 yards and 2 touchdowns. His favorite target most of the afternoon — Golden Tate — was also outstanding, posting 244 yards and a touchdown in a shocking display of speed, athleticism, and skill. The Irish's offense was unstoppable. But even with their awesome proficiency, poor red zone play calling and a key mistake by Clausen on an errant screen pass/fumble taken back for a touchdown, kept Notre Dame in a dogfight all day long that would be inevitably decided — amidst all the offensive fireworks — by the Irish defense.