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Is this real life?

Jordan Gamble | Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanks November. It’s been surreal.

The magic started three Saturdays ago, when Notre Dame beat Utah. To be precise, the Irish football team wafflestomped a ranked team in Notre Dame Stadium and it was glorious. Then, Notre Dame took over New York City and beat Army. I didn’t get to go to Yankee Stadium, but watching that nearly-pristine Irish victory on TV injected a whole lot of excitement into my rebounding school spirit.

All of Thanksgiving week, all I could think about was the coming weekend, when I would head out to Los Angeles with the rest of the seniors on The Observer’s editorial board.

On Friday afternoon, I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my Notre Dame hoodie.When I looked to my right, I didn’t see the Hollywood sign, but I did see the entrance to Disneyland, which was just down the road from our hotel in Orange County. While the rest of the Notre Dame fans went to a pep rally in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, The Observer seniors bought some discounted evening tickets and got psyched up by riding Space Mountain. You know it’s been a good three weeks when the Happiest Place on Earth is just a pregame.

From the start on Saturday evening, the atmosphere felt ripe for an Irish victory. Our seats were in a nice little block of Irish fans in the west endzone. That vantage point gave me flashbacks to the freshmen section in Notre Dame Stadium, where I first stood four years ago, all full of hope and certainty that, yes, we’d win over all.

The tacky wonder that is the Coliseum’s Jumbotron frequently had more spirit than the docile USC crowd. The only time I felt like I was in hostile territory was when the Trojans tied it up and then bounced ahead in the second half.

Once we scored again, however, the rain proved too much for the fair-weather fans. The Coliseum looked half-Irish and sounded like South Bend.

The final few minutes are still streaming through my head: What is this business? Is this a Notre Dame crowd cheering loud and a Notre Dame team being absolutely confident? Are we really going to beat USC, at USC, in the rain, with a freshman quarterback? Did Ronald Johnson really just miss that pass? And oh my God, an interception! Harrison Smith got an interception! On the goal line! This is so happening! This is so happening right now, and I’m here, and it’s very loud, and I can’t really breathe because I’m screaming so much and the clock is running out and yes! We beat USC! And now we’re screaming the Alma Mater and skipping out of the Coliseum singing the fight song and dang it, four years of waiting and wanting and hoping are validated.

Thanks Notre Dame football. It’s been real.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Jordan Gamble at jgamble@nd.edu