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Unfortunately, I Was There

There are plenty of decade retrospectives happening everywhere right now, but we'd also like you to participate. Tell us about the best game you've seen in person this decade with the tag #iwasthere. Mine: Duke-Notre Dame , 2007. Hear me out.

The day started in Chicago, where we flew before driving to South Bend for the afternoon's game, one of the last of the season. Both teams were positively dreadful, entering with matching 1-9 records. Still! A Notre Dame football game is a Notre Dame football game, we thought. It was worth the trip. So we woke up too early and started off toward Notre Dame, carrying enough pre-game hope to rationalize the journey. Ninety minutes later, someone noticed an ominous sign on the right side of the road.


"Uh, why does it say Welcome to Michigan?" he asked, pointing to the "Welcome to Michigan: Great Lakes, Great Times" sign.

Perhaps the times were better over there. I'll never know. Because as we turned around and ventured back into Indiana, our luck only got worse. In a parking lot teeming with wasted college students, a plain-clothed cop, wearing a black crewneck and cargo jeans, cited me for nursing a beer underage. When I tried to pawn off our extra tickets, both of which had a face value of around $20, I was forced to settle for a $10 total sale; scalpers around me were hawking off their tickets for free. As we found our wooden bleachers on the side of the end zone, the 35-degree weather and gusting winds grew lonely and called for a driving rain to join the party. The desolate scene dulled even the Golden Dome.

Then the football started and Touchdown Jesus, lurking behind the stadium, turned away in horror.

The first 10 drives ended with: missed field goal, punt, punt, missed field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, fumble. The last two failures were particularly torturous. Going for it on fourth-and-17 — yes, fourth-and-17 — Jimmy Clausen lobbed a pass to a wide-open Robby Parris. The ball smacked him in the chest, and he dropped it, flubbing a touchdown. The Notre Dame diehards around us continued their grumbling, and when Duke fumbled in Irish territory six plays later, we joined them in bitterness. We were wet and cold, and after trekking out to the middle of Indiana, the score was 0-0 with two minutes left in the half. But everyone in our shivering section, no matter their school affiliation, felt united in misery. We were rooting for incompetence, because it was the only thing worth recognizing with cheers. We found solace in solidarity.


Notre Dame proceeded to win, 28-7. The Irish locked arms to sing their fight song, and the seniors threw marshmallows at each other and did whatever it is people do when Notre Dame wins a home football game. I've tried to forget most of that day, except for one choice quote, one fan's sudden epiphany as offenses and defenses swapped places yet again.

"This might be the worst football game I've ever seen," he yelled. We roared in giddy agreement. It was a beautiful moment.


Now, keep yours coming.

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