Following Notre Dame Football’s crushing 20-19 loss at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday night, head coach Brian Kelly’s record against ranked opponents while at Notre Dame dropped to 11-15. This is not the mark of a coach that is supposed to lead the Irish back to the top of college football. Kelly continues to be outcoached against both ranked teams as well as opponents the Irish should have no problem beating. Here is a look back at some of those crushing and infuriating defeats:
Notre Dame vs. Michigan State Spartan (2010 season)
This was the first time Brian Kelly got blatantly outcoached at Notre Dame. The Irish led the Spartans 34-31 in overtime when Michigan State lined up to kick a game-tying 46-yard field goal. Kelly did not have his team prepared for every possible scenario and in turn made himself and his team look bad when the Spartans executed a flawless fake field goal that resulted in the game-winning touchdown.
#16 Notre Dame vs. USF Bulls (2011 season)
In the 2011 season opener, the South Florida Bulls came into South Bend and after weather delays upset the 16th ranked Irish. Notre Dame accumulated 504 yards of offense to USF’s 254, an enormous difference, but it was Notre Dame’s five turnovers and USF’s poise through adversity that led the Bulls to a 23-20 victory over the Irish.
#1 Notre Dame vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (2012 season)*
Brian Kelly, for the first time, was able to navigate his team through its schedule and into the BCS National Championship Game. This game has an asterisk next to it because it was more of a telling defeat than many of the infuriating losses the Irish had suffered under Brian Kelly. Alabama’s 42-14 beatdown of the Irish revealed not only to Kelly and his staff, but to the entire country just how far away Notre Dame was from really competing for National Championships.
#5 Notre Dame vs. #2 Florida State Seminoles (2014 season)
The Irish led 17-10 at halftime but were outscored 21-10 in the second half, resulting in a crushing 31-27 loss. In the final seconds of the game, Notre Dame had driven down to the Florida State 2-yard line, only to have the next play result in an offensive pass interference. The Irish were forced into a fourth and goal from the 18-yard line, which they were unable to convert. Kelly was outcoached in the second half and his team was unable to put the Seminoles away when they had their chances.
#24 Notre Dame vs. #15 Georgia Bulldogs (2017 season)
After a week one beatdown of the Temple Owls, Brian Kelly’s team looked ready to prove themselves against a ranked opponent when the Georgia Bulldogs came to South bend. Although struggling offensively for most of the game, the Irish found themselves with possession of the football and a 19-17 lead late into the fourth quarter. Brian Kelly elected not to go win the game, but instead to try and not lose it, resulting in three straight run plays followed by a punt. This led to the eventual go-ahead field goal and fumble from Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush that sealed the victory for Georgia.
The Irish have had no shortage of heartbreaking defeats under Brian Kelly. If he is unable to figure out how to close games his team should win, then Saturday night may have been the beginning of the end for Brian Kelly in South Bend.