NOTRE DAME — For the first time since 2005, the orange College GameDay bus rolled up to the Notre Dame campus.
As the popular ESPN pre-game broadcast set up shop outside of Notre Dame's Hesburgh Library, Irish football fans met it with open arms and witty signs.
One poster boasted: “SEC, This is what a library looks like.” “Mark May cries during Rudy,” another proclaimed, jabbing at the ESPN analyst who's an antagonist to Lou Holtz's Notre Dame fervor.
The last time the College GameDay crew came to South Bend, the then-No. 9 Irish faced then-No. 1 USC in the infamous “Bush Push” game on Oct. 15, 2005.
“We were, frankly, uninvited for a while, but that coach is gone and it's great to be back,” GameDay host Chris Fowler said on air, referring to former Irish coach Charlie Weis.
The hundreds of fans crammed in front of the stage weren't so welcoming of commentator Desmond Howard, a former Michigan receiver and 1991 Heisman Trophy winner.
Every time Howard spoke, the crowd either booed or chanted “Rocket (Ismail)'s better!” as a testament to the former Irish receiver who finished second in Heisman voting in 1990.
The 3-hour broadcast came to a climax when actor Vince Vaughn appeared as the surprise guest game picker. Vaughn was also spotted on the sideline of the Notre Dame/Purdue game on Sept. 8.
After Vaughn and analyst Kirk Herbstreit both chose Notre Dame to win, commentator Lee Corso made his famous mascot headgear prediction by running onto stage in full Notre Dame leprechaun garb.
Saturday marked the first time Corso picked Notre Dame to win as the featured team on College GameDay.
College GameDay's apperance and Corso's pick are proof that Notre Dame is trotting into old and, as of late, unfamiliar territory.
The Irish were 5-0 for the first time since 2002 and were ranked in the Top 10 (No. 7) in the country for the first time since 2006. Several analysts believed that if Notre Dame beat Stanford, the Irish would be poised for a BCS game.
For a team who ESPN's Rick Rilley called “irrelevant” before the season began, that same network enjoyed putting on a show under the shadow of Touchdown Jesus on Saturday.