By TIM TUTOR /Sports Editor
Everyone knows that Notre Dame’s All-American senior linebacker Manti Te’o looks for his No. 1 ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (12-0) to defeat the No. 2 ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama (12-1) in this year’s BCS National Championship game in Miami on January 7th. Well, of course.
The real news (for those of you who are still uninformed) is that Adam Gore, Assistant Sports Information Director at Itawamba Community College, is a dyed-in-the-wool University of Notre Dame football fan. He’s looking for an Irish win, also.
“This year was my third year in a row to go to a Notre Dame game (Utah in 2010, Navy in 2011 and Wake Forest in 2012),” Gore said in a recent telephone interview with the Progress.
With a 38-0 shutout of the Demon Deacons that day, the unbeaten Fighting Irish — aided by Kansas State and Oregon losses — took over the No. 1 spot in the college football rankings.
“It really is exciting for me,” Gore said, while noting that the last time Notre Dame was undefeated was back in the 1988-89 season.
“Not to try and date myself, but that was back when I first started getting into sports professionally — over 20 years ago since it last happened.”
Back in 2010 Gore made the Utah game played at Notre Dame — a 28-3 Irish win where he was able to get the autograph of this year’s No. 2 Heisman finalist — Manti Te’o.
When a very young lad growing up in Calhoun County, Gore became a Notre Dame fan.
“Back in those days, the only TV station I could pick up was NBC, so that’s all I knew,” he explained. “At one point, when I was even younger, I thought they were a professional team.
“I’ve been Notre Dame since I was little, little.”
The Irish will have to face Alabama (and win) in the championship game to hold on to the No. 1 national rating. Notre Dame has a good history playing in this venue.
“On mutual territory, there should be a great turnout for Alabama fans and Notre Dame fans alike,” Gore said. “I’m hoping there’s a little luck-of-the-Irish camping around in Miami for us.”
Can Notre Dame pull off a victory?
“I feel like they can,” Gore said. “But I really think that the deciding factor in the game will be how big Alabama is up front … their experience on their offensive line.
“I look for it to be a closer game than some people are thinking.
“But, as much as I hate to admit it … being in SEC country, I see what Alabama can do. I can see Alabama wearing us down and beating us in the fourth quarter.
“It all depends on what we can do early in the passing game. But, if we get into a slugfest with them, I feel like Alabama has the decisive edge in that.”
At the time of my conversation with Gore, the Las Vegas line was right at 10 points — Crimson Tide.
“I’m hoping we can stay inside that to keep it competitive … that’s the main thing,” Gore said, “because I’ve caught so much grief from Alabama fans and Southeastern Conference fans.”
Alabama faced Michigan back on September 1 at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas and took care of business 41-14, while Notre Dame battled Michigan at home in their fourth game of the season (three at home). The Wolverines fell in Indiana 13-6.
“Michigan is like our second biggest rival,” Gore declared. “It’s kind of like the Ole Miss/State game. it’s one of those games where you really don’t know what’s going to happen until the final horn sounds.
“It’s a good game to judge on how Michigan did improve vastly from the beginning of the year. But, yes … when you compare apples to apples, Alabama, obviously, has a big decisive edge when it comes to a common opponent.”
According to Gore, there has been a couple of times over the years when the Fighting Irish has been up on Michigan by 14 and end up losing to them by three — outscored by 17 points in the fourth quarters.
Notre Dame, in their second game of the season (also at home), defeated Purdue, 20-17. Then they won, again at home, 20-13 in overtime against Stanford. After that, the Fighting Irish defeated BYU (at home) 17-14, before winning in a triple-overtime affair 29-26 against Pittsburg — you guest it … at home.
“I look at those games in a very positive way,” Gore said. “Even though we didn’t play our best game against Pittsburg and played well against a very good Stanford team, we found ways to win.
“That’s what makes a dangerous football team,” he added. “A team that may not be the best in the world, but if they find ways to win, you kind of feel good at the end in a close ballgame.”
The Southern California game
Gore noted that in the USC game played in Los Angeles (a 22-13 ND win) where the Irish held the lead for most of the game, was the same team that defeated Notre Dame the last time his boys had a chance to win the national championship.
“You may remember the ‘Bush push’ game, when Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinhart pushed running back Reggie Bush into the endzone. But we had a big goal line stand where they didn’t get in this time around.
“It was kind of like retribution … bringing things back to an even field.”
Notre Dame came up with four straight stops inside the five-yard line against the Trojans this year.
“It was one of those games where I held my breath the whole time,” Gore said. “That big defensive stand is one of the reasons why our defense is 12-0 this year.”