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Farmer: It was a boring game, but boring is good (Oct. 10)

Douglas Farmer | Sunday, October 9, 2011

Only one word can describe Saturday’s second half: Boring.

Actually, let’s use three: Really, really boring.

It was delightful.

Less than 11 minutes into the first quarter, Notre Dame held a 21-3 lead. At halftime, six Irish possessions had yielded six Irish touchdowns and a 42-16 lead over Air Force.

One week after a 38-10 romp in West Lafayette, Saturday’s 59-33 victory brought the phrase “with ease” to a new level. The final 30 minutes saw more yawns than points, even though there were 34 points.

Talk about a good problem to have.

It has been a long time since Notre Dame dominated two consecutive opponents. The closest the Irish came last season was a 28-3 win over Utah one week followed by a 27-3 triumph over Army. In both instances, a fourth quarter comeback remained possible, if not probable. These last two weeks, comebacks bordered on the impossible.

In three out of this season’s first four games, Irish fans fought off cardiac arrest. Five games last year came down to one possession. These frequent ulcer-inducing weekends have been routine since Lou Holtz left Notre Dame in 1996 — coincidentally, his final home game was the last time the Irish scored more than 59 points, a 62-0 victory over Rutgers.

This two-week old habit is much preferred to the handfuls of antacids campus has needed for more than a decade.

In place of screaming to the final play, the student section enjoyed the luxuries of a well-received “wave.” (Though it should be noted, the northwest corner of the Stadium failed in its attempts to begin a double wave.) Perhaps this trend will continue, and an opportunity will be granted in two weeks under the lights against USC.

In lieu of questioning sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees, or before him senior Dayne Crist, the postgame press conference was filled with questions leading to praise of sophomore quarterback Andrew Hendrix, who took the first snaps of his collegiate career.

Rather than wonder why senior receiver Michael Floyd had such trouble getting open, fans wondered what record he broke this week. Floyd did not break any, however, as he has already broken all, or at least nearly all, of them. Instead, the All-American tried his hand at fielding punts, seemingly just for the fun of it.

Welcome to boring. Isn’t it lovely?

With 6:22 left in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame held a 40-point lead. Air Force needed five touchdowns and five converted two-point conversions to catch the Irish. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Instead of worrying about another late defensive collapse, Irish fans enjoyed the raw talent displayed by Hendrix, freshman running back George Atkinson and the entire third-string defense.

Only the occasional Air Force fourth-down attempt, and subsequent conversion, reminded fans a competitive game was ongoing, if not all that competitive.

Boring is beautiful.

Usually, when students reach the second half, their impending hangovers make loud noises a nuisance. Saturday, the impending hangovers simply made the 248 aerial pushups that much more comical.

When Officer Tim McCarthy comes on the Stadium address system before the fourth quarter, he normally provides a moment of levity during a stressful game. His “strike out” pun this week may have been the most serious moment of the second half.

The sight of stands emptying was not a result of storms. It was the sight of disinterest, hunger and, well, boredom.

Notre Dame fans should take interest in the young players taking the field at the end of the game. Hendrix, Atkinson and company will be playing the opening half in the years to come.

Notre Dame fans should hit the concession stands a bit harder. Or slip some snacks into their pockets before entering the Stadium.

And Notre Dame fans should get used to boring. It seems it may be here to say.

At that point, only two words are needed to sum up Saturday:

Delightfully boring.

Contact Douglas Farmer at dfarmer1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.