Notre Dame beats LSU 31-28 in a wild game

Yes, I know: this game was between a 7-5 program and an 8-4 one; Notre Dame had gotten beat by Northwestern (a team that Illinois blew out) and drummed 49-14 by USC. LSU lost 17-0 to Arkansas.

And yes, after seeing this game and after seeing the Heart of Dallas Bowl, I’d have to pick Louisiana Tech to beat either of these teams, THIS SEASON at this time of the year.

But this series has some history to it. Of course, the last meeting wasn’t that competitive (LSU won in a 41-14 blowout in the 2007 Sugar Bowl)

Nevertheless, I took the trip because, well, it seemed like fun. My experience can be found here.

Short and sweet If someone told me that LSU would have a 100 yard kick return, and 89 yard touchdown run and a 75 yard touchdown pass, I’d say “LSU blowout”. But while Notre Dame didn’t have nearly as many long plays (they did have one), they had a lot of long drives. And LSU made some key mistakes: they botched a fake field goal attempt (players ran into each other allowing the defense to recover…BUT..), a botched hand off which lead to a fumble and a blocked field goal (low kick). Notre Dame played mostly error free and THAT was the difference.

Total yards were close: 449 yards for ND to 436 for LSU (the kick off return TD kept LSU’s numbers a bit lower than they would have been); ND punted 4 times and LSU 3. However LSU only punted once in the first half and Notre Dame, not at all.

My vantage point:

The game: how it played out.

Notre Dame got the opening kick off and drove it 66 yards for a touchdown. They mixed short passes and some running plays which featured tricky ball handling. The backup quarterback (who is a good runner) started and played most of the games, save some “passing down/series” plays.

A short outside “screen like” pass completed the drive.

ND used this formation: they had two running backs line up in an I formation behind the tight end; they often ran power to that side.


This drive took 7:56! LSU got it and punted it.

ND got the ball and drove it 58 yards to the LSU 20; they failed on 4’th and 1 at the 20 (no thought of a field goal attempt).

But only 2:41 was left in the first quarter.

No mind: LSU drove it 76 yards, all on the ground, for a touchdown just prior to the quarter expiring. A key play was a tricky 24 yard reverse in which a wide receiver was hidden behind the line..



In the second quarter, ND drove it 75 yards for a touchdown; this drive featured the usual starting quarterback. However, the other quarterback (the runner) took it in.

14-7 Notre Dame, but don’t blink: 100 yard kick off return; I saw the hole opening up and said “oh-oh”. ND put the subsequent kicks deep in the end zone.


Then came ND’s turn to drive. They used a short field and the “throwing quarterback” to mix passing and running; the passer made a nice pass on a key third down, but got blasted by the LSU defense in the process.



The running quarterback took over and got it in.

6:12 was left; now it was LSU’s turn to drive.

LSU drove it to the ND 2, mostly on running (one 17 yard pass). But on 4’th and goal from the 2, LSU lined up for a field goal. I screamed “WATCH THE FAKE”..which…LSU did.

But the kicker ran into a blocker which delayed him a bit; there was a crash near the goal line and it appeared to me that the runner got the ball to the goal line. But replay was inconclusive (where was the knee? was it down?) and so the on the field call stood.



Second half
LSU got the ball at the 25 (kick off out of the end zone). BAM. 75 yard touchdown on the first play; it was just a simple crossing pattern.

LSU forced ND’s first punt (after ND drove to the LSU 40) and momentum appeared to shift.


LSU drove to the ND 44 but then botched a hand off; ND recovered.


But the ND offense got stuffed and so had to punt it back; but the ball was at the LSU 11.

Then on the first play from scrimmage, the LSU line blew open a huge hole…I said “oh no” and it was an 89 yard touchdown run.



I thought: “oh no…it is all the other way”.

But ND answered the bell; they started at the 33 and ran 3 good runs; then broke a 50 yard touchdown run of their own. 28-28 with only 1:59 left in a wild 3’rd quarter.

ND got a sack on the next possession and forced a punt; it was short and ND had the ball on their own 48. But a holding call and a fumble (which ND recovered) wasted the field position; the LSU defense forced a punt.

LSU got the ball on their 19 moved it as the quarter expired.

But after a nice drive (mostly running, but a nifty 21 yard pass too) LSU had it 4’th and 2 at the 23 and a low field goal attempt was blocked.

Just under 12 minutes remained at the teams exchanged punts; ND got the ball at their own 15 with 5:41 left in the game.


Then came the key drive: ND used both quarterbacks on this drive, starting with the runner (who hit a play action pass); the passer made 3 completions in a row (4 total) to get to the LSU 22 with 42 seconds to go. A keeper by the running quarterback got it to the 14 and LSU had to use a time out. Then a “set the ball at the good hash mark for the kicker” run took it down to 4 seconds, at which point LSU called two “ice the kicker” time outs.


No worries; the much maligned kicker made the kick from 32 yards out…

Game over!

(photos: stills from ESPN, most from the ND football website).


December 31, 2014 - Posted by | college football, football, travel | ,


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