Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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www.BLUEANDGOLD.com FEBRUARY 2020 29 The Agony Of Defeat Head coach Brian Kelly has indicated that he does not own a "stink-o-meter" to rate losses. We didn't put the 2013 BCS National Championship Game fiasco versus Alabama (42- 14) and the CFP loss to Clemson (30-3) on the list because the opportunity to be there against a vastly superior team was at least a plus. But these setbacks especially elicited anything from incredulity to rage. 1. USF/Michigan, 2011 Surreal setbacks to begin the campaign 0-2, the Irish committed five turnovers in each while finding a way to lose to alumnus Skip Holtz's 5-7 South Florida team (23-20). This game also had two in-game lightning delays that totaled two hours and 53 minutes. A week later, the Irish blew a 24-7 fourth-quarter lead at Michigan when the Wol- verines drove 80 yards for a touchdown in the final 30 seconds to notch a 35-31 win. 2. Florida State, 2014 A two-yard touchdown pass from Everett Golson to wideout Corey Robinson with 13 seconds left gave 6-0 and No. 5 Notre Dame a 33-31 lead over No. 2 and reigning national champ Florida State — until a highly controversial call that it was a "pick play" rubbed it out to help preserve the victory for the Seminoles. 3. Michigan, 2019 Nothing put a greater damper on an otherwise quality 11-2 campaign than this baf- fling no-show, a 45-14 loss to a Michigan team that had been reeling. 4. Miami, 2017 The No. 3-ranked and 8-1 Irish looked like a CFP lock after steamrolling the opposition and averaging nearly 42 points per game — before running into a buzz saw in South Florida during a 41-8 disintegration. 5. Duke, 2016 Rock bottom was achieved during the wretched 4-8 campaign when the Irish lost 38- 35 at home to a struggling Blue Devils outfit that also would finish 4-8. The 1-3 start led to the ouster of third-year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder less than 24 hours later, the first known in-season firing of an assistant at Notre Dame. Notre Dame squandered a 24-7 fourth-quarter lead at Michigan in 2011, dropping a 35-31 heartbreaker after surrendering the go-ahead score in the final 30 seconds. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Dame Stadium on a rainy, dank afternoon as the Irish improved to 6-0 for the first time in 10 years. 3. Oh Boy(kin)! — LSU (2018 Citrus Bowl) Trailing LSU 17-14 and with time running out, sophomore reserve quarterback Ian Book from his 45-yard line flung a pass down the right sideline, where wideout Miles Boykin made a spectacular, leaping one-handed stab, kept his balance and evaded two defenders for what turned into a 55-yard touch- down with 1:28 remaining. The No. 14-ranked Irish came limping into the game after losing two of their last three, and a third loss in four contests would have put a severe damper on a rebound from the previ- ous year's 4-8 mark. Instead, this victory over the No. 17 Tigers began the New Year with rejuvenation that carried over into the next season. 4. Season Saver — Virginia Tech (2019) A 45-14 debacle at Michigan a week earlier had the once CFP- contending Irish reeling when they trailed Virginia Tech 20-14 at home and took possession at their own 13-yard line with 3:22 remaining. Twice the Irish converted fourth-down plays — with the sec- ond coming on fourth-and-10 from the Virginia Tech 33-yard line in which Book rifled a 26-yard pass to wide receiver Chase Claypool downfield that he snared after running an ideal route. Three plays later, Book's seven-yard run with 29 seconds left and the extra point by Jonathan Doerer off a saved hold by Jay Bramblett enabled the Irish to post a 21-20 victory — and begin the longest winning streak to end a season (six) in 27 years. 5. Ben There, Done That — Stanford (2014) Trailing 14-10 with just more than a minute to play and facing fourth-and-11 at the Stanford 23-yard line, quarterback Everett Golson scrambled to his left away from pressure and fired a missile into the end zone to tight end Ben Koyack, who held on just inside the sideline with 1:01 remaining. That 17-14 victory over the No. 14 Cardinal improved Notre Dame to 5-0 and made the hiring of new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder seem like an act of genius. The Irish had al- lowed only 12.0 points per game, highlighted by a 31-0 shutout of Michigan. Will Fuller's 39-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown catch with 12 seconds remaining capped the 34-27 Irish come- back victory at Virginia in 2015. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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