Notre Dame has had a championship-caliber defense all season long. But the emergence of Everett Golson allows us to talk about Notre Dame as a championship team.
The sophomore signal caller has come an awfully long way since his three turnover performance against Stanford 16 days ago. With the biggest game Notre Dame has played in a decade hanging in the balance...Golson was at his absolute best. Orchestrating a 73-yard go-ahead touchdown drive in the 4th quarter. A drive that included a 50-yard bomb for freshman Chris Brown, who hadn't caught a pass in his career prior to Golson finding him, and capped off with Golson plunging into the red endzone at Oklahoma, giving the Irish a late lead they wouldn't relinquish.
It was a signature moment in the development of Notre Dame's next star.
“I thought Everett Golson led our team,” Kelly said. “He had been challenged to continue to grow. It's been a process, but I thought tonight was a big step up for our quarterback and our offense elevated itself against great competition on the road.
"He was confident. He was calm. All the things you need to see from your quarterback."
While I think we're still a long way from realizing Golson's full potential, Kelly predicted a breakout game in the near future. Who knew it would be in Norman?
"We're probably all at that stage of, 'OK, when's it going to happen? When's it all really going to come together?' I think we're all waiting, and it's going to," Kelly said following last Thursday's practice.
"It hasn't yet, but he's starting to put together multiple practices in a row where I leave practice and go, 'Boy when this thing comes together, it's going to be pretty exciting.'"
The results are indeed exciting for Notre Dame. A quarterback who can beat you with his legs as well as his arm, finally comfortable enough with the playbook that it looks 2nd nature, and secure enough in his role to improvise when necessary. This is the key to Notre Dame's offense taking flight.
We know the defense is good. Good enough to win games. But you can't win titles without contributions in all three phases.
If Golson keeps this up, we can stop talking about game management and start enjoying the euphoria Kelly was talking about.
Golson has grown tremendously over the past few weeks. From an occasional liability into a leader. And if this trend continues the rest of the season, there's no team in the country the Irish can't beat.