- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here's what we learned about Notre Dame in its 41-3 thrashing of Miami.
1. The offense can be very good. We use the word "can" here because Miami, like Navy, does not have a great defense. But the Irish were dominant offensively in both of those contests, as any offense with weapons should be. Stanford will be a much tougher test next week, but putting up 40-plus points is a definite step in the right direction for Notre Dame, regardless of opponent.
2. The defense is still very good. When I asked George Atkinson III about the offense breaking out, he was quick to remind me that the defense did not allow a touchdown. Again. It gets lost when it seems to be the norm -- especially on a night when the offense breaks out -- but three consecutive games without allowing a touchdown is incredible. The Irish, who have yet to trail in a game this season, are surrendering just 7.8 points per game.
3. Golson responds. There seemed to be uncertainty surrounding the quarterback recently, from getting yanked from the Michigan game to the chatter that he may not start. Everett Golson was late for a meeting and punished accordingly, but he was not fazed by the discipline or, this time, by the big stage. He turned in his best performance of the season, and he illustrated why, long-term, he likely will be worth the early growing pains for Notre Dame.
4. This team can be special. "Special" seems to be the buzz word around this team, but it has the formula for success down pat through five games: Don't turn the ball over, play incredible defense. The schedule gets harder, but Stanford, Oklahoma and USC look nothing like they were perceived to be entering the season. And with so many higher-ranked teams losing, the dominoes could be falling into place for Notre Dame to make a serious run at a BCS bowl game this season.