The Northwestern Wildcats entered the game expected to lose by 17 points. There has been a rivalry between them and Notre Dame that began almost a hundred years ago in 1917. Though Northwestern has had decent teams in the past, since the turn of the century they have not been contenders for the title. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has made a name for itself as one of the elite college football teams and was the runner-up in the BCS Bowl in 2012.
You can probably tell that Notre Dame entered this game expecting an easy win. They had a 7-2 record, which placed them at #18 nationally. They were still in the running for a spot in the newly devised College Football Playoff. Northwestern, on the other hand, was 4-6 and had recently lost to Michigan in a blowout, who Notre Dame beat 31-0 earlier in the season. At this point they were playing for pride. And their pride definitely showed: