In 2012 Notre Dame opened the season in Dublin Ireland against Navy. ND dominated that game. Everett Golson, Theo Riddick, Davaris Daniels, Tyler Eifert, Zack Martin, Luis Nix, KeiVarae Russell, Stephon Tuitt and Manti Teo, the 2012 Irish were loaded with talent.
Stephon Tuitt scored on a 65-yard scoop and score, the Irish rushed for 293 yards 4 TDs and the defense held Navy to 149 yards rushing. ND blew the Midshipman out 50-10.
The blowout was a sign of good things to come.
The 2012 team went on to a perfect 12-0 regular season that included memorable wins over Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford and Oklahoma and USC. By mid-November, ND was the #1 ranked team in the nation, a status they held until falling to Alabama in the national championship game.
Last Saturday the Irish were back Dublin in against Navy, and the similarities to 2012 are numerous. The Irish again are loaded with talent: Audric Estime, Jaden Greathouse, Jayden Thomas, Joe Alt, Jack Kiser, Marist Liufau and Sam Hartman, Sam Hartman, Sam Hartman!
Hartman on the night was 19-23 for 251 yards and 4 TDs. He showed just about everything he has been thought to possess since transferring to South Bend in January. Leadership, escapability, decision making and accuracy. He has a skill set not seen in these parts in a decade or maybe three.
And the Irish showed much more than Hartman. The offensive line with two newcomers, gelled. Estime led a stable of runners with 95 yards and a TD. Freshman Jaden Greathouse notched his first ever receiving TD, and his second, while nine different receivers caught passes. Defensively, Marist Liufu and Jack Kiser led a group that held Navy to 2.6 yards per carry and just 12 first downs.
And just as they did in 2012, ND blew out the Midshipman, this time 42-3, to start a season in Dublin Ireland.
So, what does it signal for the rest of 2023? Can this team approach the heights reached in 2012 and maybe even go one step further?
Last Saturday the Irish showed practically everything that Irish fans had been dreaming of since the 2022 season was put to bed . Depth and athleticism on defense, a cohesive offensive line, emerging wide receivers, a deep and talented running back room and Sam Hartman, Sam Hartman, Sam Hartman!
And one other 2012 comparison bodes even better for 2023, because with all due respect to Everett Golson 2012, he was no Sam Hartman, Sam Hartman, Sam Hartman!
The Fighting Irish will face a challenging schedule in 2023. Six teams in the top half of the ACC and 3 top 10 teams. Surviving such a slate unblemished, like ND did in 2012 against a less formidable looking schedule, has looked to be a longshot.
But after dominant start to the season, and Sam Hartman, Sam Hartman, Sam Hartman, those long odds just got better, better and better!