In October 2009, Notre Dame and Washington played a close game that went down to the last play, with Notre Dame pulling out a controversial win. Sark was in his first year, and ND was on the way to firing Charlie Weis at the end of the season.
I think that we can agree that the two teams were more or less even on the field at that point.
Three years later, Brian Kelly has Notre Dame in the National Championship Game on the back of a tough defense and a bruising running game. Sark just blew the Apple Cup to a 2-9 Washington State team, and had 50 points hung on them twice.