Fireworks crackled overhead and snowflakes fluttered to the turf and Notre Dame moved about the Sun Bowl turf a bit, well, unmoved. An acutely resolute performance capped off a stirring late-season renewal while gutting former bitter rival Miami as it slinks back to the drawing board.
A 33-17 victory before a Sun Bowl-record crowd of 54,021 was everything the Irish needed it to be. So they ceremoniously doused coach Brian Kelly. They hugged and snapped photos. They serenaded game MVP Michael Floyd with a "One more year!" chant as they closed with four straight victories for the first time in 17 seasons.
But, mostly, Notre Dame (8-5) didn't get too worked up. Maybe the Irish felt hypothermic in the barely-above-freezing air. Or maybe now they mean it when they say they expect this. And they can acknowledge, prudently, that a bowl triumph guarantees nothing but more work to meet the inevitably over-amplified expectations that will follow.