Tulsa 28, Notre Dame 27. In the grand scheme of things, even a home loss to a Conference USA also-ran with the smallest enrollment in the Football Bowl Subdivision is an afterthought in the wake of the genuine catastrophe at Notre Dame this week. The final score wasn't even the worst fate to befall the Irish on the field today, given that starting quarterback Dayne Crist may have suffered a season-ending knee injury for the second year in a row.
But man, Notre Dame is bad. Shockingly bad, and not in the "Brian Kelly needs a year or two to get his recruits in place" sense. Bad in a "Back-to-back losses to Navy and Tulsa" sense. NBC's announcers commended Tulsa after the game on "the biggest win in school history," adding the Golden Hurricane to a motley crew of underdogs that have added an upset in Notre Dame Stadium to the top of their resumés over the last four years: Navy, Syracuse, Connecticut, Navy again.
The illusion that the Kelly administration would relegate those flops to the "History" section of the media guide officially went up in smoke last week in the Meadowlands. Still, when students joked this week about rushing the field to commemorate the loss that would mark the current seniors as the losingest class in Irish history, it was suggested for Utah's visit in two weeks. Even the most pointed skeptics on campus didn't think it could be bad enough to fall to 4-5 against Tulsa.
Oh, but it is. And with Utah and USC still in front of them, with Crist apparently sidelined for a true freshman who served up three interceptions today to go with the pick he threw on one of his two attempts against Michigan in September, it's only going to get worse. A losing season is all but in the books. The only question at this point is whether the Irish can even take Army for granted in two weeks to avoid going out on a straight five-game losing streak.
The transition to Brian Kelly changed nothing: A sobering reality to end a terrible week. But only the beginning of another depressingly familiar crawl to the finish line.