Notre Dame suffers collapse in Fiesta Bowl, loses 37-35

Notre Dame cornerback Ramon Henderson (11) recovers Oklahoma State wide receiver Brennan...
Notre Dame cornerback Ramon Henderson (11) recovers Oklahoma State wide receiver Brennan Presley's fumble in the end zone during the second half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)(Ross D. Franklin | AP)
Published: Jan. 1, 2022 at 9:45 PM EST
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (WNDU) - The Freeman Era begins 0-1 as The Fighting Irish lose 37-35 to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl Saturday.

The loss comes after Notre Dame led by as many as 21 points in the first half. Jack Coan threw for four touchdown passes before halftime; two of them went to tight end Michael Mayer, helping the Mackey semi-finalist tie and subsequently break the school record for most touchdown catches at his position in a single season.

But Oklahoma State would respond almost immediately after Mayer’s 2nd TD grab, driving down the field in just 39 seconds of game time to trim their deficit to 14 going into the half.

The Cowboys would get the ball to begin the 2nd half, and would score on that drive as well to make it a one-score game. The Irish passing attack that exploded in the first half was nearly non-existent after the break. Oklahoma would score 30 unanswered points to go up 37-28 before Notre Dame scored a late touchdown that brought us to the eventual final score of 37-35.

Coan threw for five touchdowns and a Fiesta Bowl-record 509 passing yards, but also tossed a crucial interception in Cowboy territory as his team trailed 34-28 in the 4th quarter. The Notre Dame rushing attack was held in check all afternoon, garnering a paltry 2 yards per carry on 21 attempts. Logan Diggs spearheaded the effort, gaining 29 yards on 9 carries.

Marcus Freeman made his head coaching debut in this game, stalking the sidelines as Notre Dame’s lead man for the first time. Despite the disappointing result, he offered optimism immediately following the game.

“I understand where we’re going in the future,” Freeman said, “and I understand we have a lot of games ahead of us. We’re going to use this game as motivation. We’re going to use this game to look back and say, ‘Remember that first one? Look where we’ve come from there.’ Sometimes you’ve got to look at it as a blessing, man.”

“We’ve got to work a little bit harder, we’ve got to make sure that we evaluate everything we do a little bit more so that the next time we step on that field we’re prepared a little bit more to have success.”

The Irish finish their season 11-2. It’s their fifth-straight season finishing with double-digit wins.

Notre Dame now falls to 0-8 in BCS/New Years Six Bowl games.

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