Sunday, September 7, 2014

Now boarding, the Golson-for-Heisman bus

And now the sell, in the hot glare of the prime-time lights.

And now Everett Golson running and passing and bumfuzzling poor Michigan into a full coma, as Brady Hoke stood over there on the Wolverine sideline wearing the look of a man contemplating his last meal. And now a 31-0 ball-peening  -- first shutout against Michigan in 30 years and the worst thumping Notre Dame has ever doled out in the series, which goes back to the time of Custer's Last Stand but has always been an odd courtship, taking whole decades off in the interim.

And so, it's Golson For The Heisman now (“Yeah, let’s put him up for it,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said, after Golson's 23-of-34, 226-yard, three-touchdown showing). It's the selling of Gold-son -- See? The kid's a natural -- in a place that knows how to myth-make.

Or maybe you missed the statue of Knute Rockne, resting in the shade of a tree beneath the patient gaze of Touchdown Jesus, right outside the north gate of Notre Dame Stadium where the boys enter every Saturday after their morning walk across campus.

Around the corner is Frank Leahy, kneeling eternally across from the Joyce Center. Farther on around is Lou Holtz, facing southwest in a place where he greets the worshippers making their way in from their tailgates, and where he can be a constant warning to the dire threat posed by the likes of Navy and Rice.

Who, by the way, was profoundly undercooked a week ago as Golson strapped five touchdowns on the Owls and began the first Heisman murmurs. Last night he was even better, making stars out of the previously undistinguished Will Fuller and Amir Carlisle, outshining by far his Michigan counterpart, Devin Gardner, who had another lackluster road performance wearing No. 98 in honor of Michigan legend Tom Harmon, the original Old 98.

It went unverified, after last night, whether Old 98 called (collect, one assumes) from the Great Beyond, saying that he'd had honor enough. But it sounds about right.

The unvarnished truth is Michigan stinks and Notre Dame doesn't, but just how much Notre Dame doesn't stink remains to be seen in a schedule designed to make even the non-fragrant fail. What's established, however, is that as Golson goes, Notre Dame will go. And right now, he goes and goes and goes -- and immediately ahead lies Purdue, which got rolled Saturday at home by Central Michigan, an off-the-rack MAC school that's no powerhouse even in its own middling neighborhood.

Which is to say: The legend figures to grow some more next week. And in South Bend, they know how to keep their legends well-watered.

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