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Last updated: February 20. 2013 1:03AM - 670 Views

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Bill Keating goes on the offensive when he talks about Notre Dame's defense.


He'll be rooting for the Fighting Irish tonight when they play Alabama in the BCS National Championship in Miami Gardens, Fla.


Top ranked Notre Dame football team held off opponents to go 12-0 in their regular season schedule.


Nobody's scored more than 30 points on them, Keating said Friday stepping away from his barber chair in his shop on Wood Street in Wilkes-Barre.


They're going to win it by defense, Keating said.


The game has been the topic of many conversations and arguments between the lifelong Notre Dame fan and his customers.


When someone talks smack about his team he brings out of his office the blue shirt T-shirt a friend brought back from South Bend, Ind. imprinted with the scores.


Cheers for Notre Dame have been echoing throughout the Wyoming Valley more so than previous years with the possibility of an undefeated season and national championship within reach.


Keating of Hanover Township grew up rooting for the team. A teacher in Larksville was a die-hard fan and gave the young Keating, now in his 70s, a few books to read.


He recalled the good when Leon Hart won the Heisman trophy in 1949 and the bad when Joe Kuharich coached from 1959 to 1962.


Come game time Keating will have a good seat without the distractions of noisy bar patrons or party-goers.


I'm going to watch it at home ‘cause I want to see the game, he said.


St. Andre Bessette Parish in Wilkes-Barre's North End boasts quite a few Notre Dame fans and the Rev. Ken Seegar wasn't going to let the season go the dogs.


The pastor bought a blue sweater with a gold ND logo for JR, the terrier belonging to the Rev. Michael Kloton, a die-hard Boston College fan.


Seegar acknowledged he did it to kind of antagonize Father Mike.


Kloton, the assistant pastor, underwent a conversion of sorts by agreeing to let JR wear the team colors for the game.


He's pretty good about it, Seegar said.


Kingston attorney Jim Blaum hasn't missed a game all season and won't miss the biggest one of all.


He usually attends at least one home game a year, but couldn't this year due to his high school officiating schedule.


The Notre Dame alumnus, class of 1972, whose son graduated from the school in 1999, called it a magical year.


The team was unranked preseason and came out of nowhere, said Blaum. If the team won 10 games it would be a good improvement from previous years, he added.


Alabama, the defending national champ, is the favorite.


They are a very good program, Blaum said. I think it's clear they have a very good coach. But I wouldn't sell Notre Dame short against anybody.


Fellow alum Jack Connolly of Luzerne has Notre Dame winning 21-14.


I always think delusionally when it comes to Notre Dame, he said. I always start off the season thinking they're going to win the national championship. I'm thrilled.


When it comes to Alabama, however, luck's been on the side of the Irish.


We played them now six times and Alabama has won once, said attorney Joe Cosgrove.


When he was the leprechaun mascot for the Fighting Irish, Cosgrove was on the field for the Nov. 13, 1976 home game against the Crimson Tide and met the famed coach Paul William Bear Bryant.


The school has a tradition of having the leprechaun greet the opposing coach. Cosgrove, 55, recalled shaking hands with Bryant and other details of the game right down to the weather conditions.


It was bitter cold that week. That was to our advantage, he said. Notre Dame won 21-18.


Cosgrove predicted win number six in the series between the schools with storied football programs.


This team has found a way to win every week. I think that is the mark of a championship team, he said.


Coach Brian Kelly has made sure the players are conditioned aerobically, something Cosgrove said he noticed when comparing the team to those from previous years.


They're incredibly good athletes and in incredibly good shape, he said.


It wouldn't seem right for the former Luzerne County judge to let emotions affect his decision making, but after all, the national championship is at stake and the last one for his alma mater was in 1988.


Cosgrove paid particular attention to the U.S. Senate's confirmation last month of attorney Matthew Brann of Bradford County as a judge for the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania. Brann is also a Notre Dame graduate.


I take that as a very good sign, Cosgrove said.


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