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Bethel community excited about Notre Dame football

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Since Bethel College doesn’t have a football team, students and faculty alike must look elsewhere to get their pigskin fix. For many, this means cheering for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who play just minutes down the road from campus. Many faculty members grew up in the glory years of Notre Dame football, but most students have become accustomed to a mediocre football program. That is, until this year. The Irish are 4-0 for the first time in a decade after wins over Navy, Purdue, Michigan State, and Michigan. The early season success has vaulted them to the top ten in the national polls and has many fans excited for the future. However, some fans weren’t necessarily expecting this level of excellence.
Notre Dame players celebrate during their 13-6 win over the University of Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 22.
“I didn’t expect them to be this good,” sophomore Chase Pinion said. ” But I think they can be on top (of the rankings) if they keep playing together.” “I’ve been a fan my whole life – 23 years – and I know some of the football players personally and they were talking themselves up before the season,” senior Becky Harness said. “But I didn’t realize how right they were; I thought it was all just hype.” But now that the players have backed up all the hype, most fans are ready to rally around their team. “I’m so excited!” said Lynne Cary, associate professor of biochemistry and a lifetime Notre Dame fan. “I think they’re for real.” Others aren’t so ready to sing Notre Dame’s praises just yet. They have seen the excitement turn into disappointment before and they want to keep things in perspective. “I think so far they have gotten lucky,” senior Michelle Stoller said. For those who remember the days of Heisman Trophy winners, legendary coaches and national championships, this season has a whole different meaning. To them, the 4-0 start has reaffirmed the call from the beloved "Notre Dame Victory March" to “wake up the echoes” of past glory. “I used to watch the games every Saturday with my grandpa … and this is how it used to be,” Cary said. The future of the football program seems as bright as the sun’s glint off of Notre Dame’s famous Golden Dome, but just how far can the team go this year? Are goals such as a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl or even a national championship realistically attainable? Well, it depends on who you ask. “Absolutely not!” Cary said. “Not this year anyways.” “I think (they could win a BCS game) this year,” sophomore Jimmy Bennett said. “I mean, they beat Michigan and Michigan State in back-to-back weeks.” Before any goals can be realized, however, the Irish have a tough road ahead of them. A quick look at the upcoming schedule shows some pretty stout competition including no. 18 Stanford, no. 17 Oklahoma and no. 13 USC (rankings according to the Associated Press Top 25). “I’m not sure about the USC game,” Stoller said. No matter the competition, the Notre Dame fans at Bethel want to take the opportunity to experience the football program’s resurgence in person. “I’m going to the Stanford game,” Stoller said. “My best friend from college is coming and we’re planning on going to the Wake Forest game for her birthday,” Cary said. Whether the rest of the season sees the Fighting Irish fade away or once again become an elite team in college football, one thing is for sure: the fans from the Bethel community will be cheering them on the entire way. Their next opportunity to do so comes this Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 pm when the Irish play the University of Miami Hurricanes at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill.  
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