Luck of the Irish? Notre Dame had plenty against Pitt
By The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, 7:04 p.m.
MIAMI — Luck of the Irish.
For starters, it's a misleading phrase in that most historians would tell you Irish luck is not necessarily a good thing. No matter — No. 1 Notre Dame enjoyed its share of fortunate breaks on its way to the BCS title game, with perhaps the bulk of those coming during a wild, wacky, marathon game at home against Pitt on Nov. 3.
Irish 29, Pitt 26, triple overtime.
If any of at least a half dozen plays in that one went another way, Notre Dame would be watching No. 2 Alabama play someone else for the title on Monday night. But the Irish found a way in that game, finished the regular season unbeaten and are now one win from capturing the national championship.
“I've always been one of those that doesn't really believe in luck,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “You kind of create your own luck by how you execute and how you perform. I think sometimes people think you're lucky when you're able to make significant plays at critical times in the games.”
Maybe, maybe not. Because on that day at Notre Dame Stadium, the Fighting Irish had luck in bunches.
There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Irish in that game, just a few of them including:
• A first-quarter play when a surefire touchdown was missed because an open receiver was never seen;
• A 43-yard field goal try at the end of the half going awry;
• Theo Riddick being ruled down just shy of the end zone, a possession where the Irish settled for a field goal;
• Everett Golson getting picked off in the end zone with 4 minutes left and Notre Dame still trailing;
• Cierre Wood fumbling the ball away an inch or two from the end zone on the opening possession of the second overtime.
And then came the moment, perhaps the quintessential moment of Notre Dame's season to date.
Pitt kicker Kevin Harper lined up for what would have been a game-winning 33-yard field goal in that second OT, with the stadium still somewhat stunned over the play where Wood simply lost the ball.
Make the kick, Pitt wins.
Along the Notre Dame sideline, barely any of the offensive players could look at the scene.
Snap was high, but got down. Harper struck the ball, which went end-over-end toward his target.
“It was so close,” offensive lineman Zack Martin said. “We heard their crowd up in the corner cheer, so we thought it was done.”
The Pitt crowd's cheer was quickly drowned out, of course. The kick went past the right upright, a foot or two away from being enough to give Pitt the win. Harper missed, and that was just one of two breaks Notre Dame caught on that play. The other was that Bennett Jackson and Chris Brown — players who both wear No. 2 for Notre Dame — were on the field at the same time, meaning the Irish should have been penalized.
The infraction wasn't noticed by the officials.
“A coaching mistake,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said.
Neither seemed to have an effect on the play ... but still, there's that luck factor again.
“A lot of people say we were lucky,” Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert said. “But we missed a field goal, too, or we would never have been in overtime, and we also fumbled on the 1-yard line and threw an interception inside the 10. I think that was unlucky, if anything. And we showed a lot of heart in that game.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.