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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Bowl superlatives: Notre Dame

By Matt Fortuna

One last look back at the disappointing end to Notre Dame's magical 2012 season:

The good: Notre Dame made it this far, winning all 12 regular-season games before a 42-14 rout by Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship ended its season. The pain is fresh, but the big picture shows a program ahead of schedule, pending the status of coach Brian Kelly.

The bad: No one wants to go out the way the Irish did, regardless of stage. The defense looked helpless all night against the Tide's offense, and the outcome was all but decided before the first quarter had ended. The S-E-C chants were coming down in the second quarter.

The ugly: Fifth-year senior and captain Kapron Lewis-Moore left the game in the second quarter with what the Chicago Tribune reported was a torn anterior cruciate ligament. As far as bad injuries go, this takes the cake: Lewis-Moore battled back from a knee injury that ended his 2011 season early, lost his starting job to Aaron Lynch, then emerged as a captain and a standout for the nation's No. 1 scoring defense in the regular season. He committed to the Irish after a historically bad 3-9 season in 2007 and exited it on crutches. He was just climbing up draft radars, too.

Wrapping up: Notre Dame finished No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25, the Irish's best finish in the polls since a No. 2 showing in 1993.

Next up: The Irish will kick off the 2013 season Aug. 31 at home against Temple, when they will return as many as seven starters on offense, eight on defense and will have in-store what is currently the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.