A cold, dreary day in Orlando gave us a game that reflected the weather and the near half-empty stadium. It as an ugly game in which LSU took aim at its foot, unloaded the chamber, and didn’t miss.
Unlike all of those field goal attempts.
It’s always the goal line with these guys as well, isn’t it? LSU would get the ball to the goal line, only for the refs to rule Etling just shy of the score. This would not only bring up memories of the last Irish-Tiger bowl game, but set the stage for the kicking issues for the rest of the game.
The terrible field goal kicking is going to be the enduring memory of this game, while Justin Yoon nailed two near fifty yarders for Notre Dame. That was a nine or twelve point swing, which was the difference in the game.
But plenty of guys had decent games. Foster Moreau made two huge third down catches, both of which stood up on review. Danny Etling had another outing of frustrating competence, throwing for 19/32 for 229 yards, but it didn’t FEEL like it. His internal clock failed to tick, forcing him to take some ill-advised sacks on the game. And then he mismanaged the final drive.
The defense was solid but unspectacular, allowing the big touchdown when they could have slammed the door shut. Greedy Williams got himself another interception and Devin White was everywhere at once. It was a good outing, but LSU needed a great one, and didn’t quite get it.
The first half was one of the most Poseur’s Law halves of football of all-time. If a team holds the advantage in the run of play but does not turn it into points, the advantage dissipates. LSU effectively moved the ball up and down the field, only to miss two short field goals, leaving the door open for Notre Dame to hit a 46-yard field goal in the final seconds of the half.
Worse yet, LSU went three and out to start off the second half, squandering yet another advantage. And that’s when good fortune shined on LSU. After a game full of special teams miscues by the Tigers, a muffed punt return by Notre Dame gave LSU the ball and a short field.
Five plays later, Derrius Guice was celebrating in the end zone.
If this is to be Guice’s last game in the purple and gold, he ended it mostly on the right personal note. He had just seven carries in the first half, which seems ill-advised. But it set up a second half in which Guice was absolutely unleashed on the Irish defense. He would score again to open up the fourth quarter and open up an eight-point lead. But the enduring memory for him will being just shy of the end zone in the final two minutes.
Of course, being an LSU game, we had to make interesting, and then eventually give it away. LSU let the Irish march down the field in response, keyed by a near perfect pass by Ian Book. There was yet another controversial goal line decision, this on the two-point conversion, which of course went in Notre Dame’s favor.
LSU wasted no time feeling sorry for itself, and drove down the field in response. For all of the debate about Danny Etling, no one can doubt his toughness, as he took a wicked shot on a completion to Stephen Sullivan, and later got popped two steps out of bounds after he leaned for the first down. But the refs kept the flags in their pockets because after all, Etling is there to get hit.
After the non-penalty, Orgeron protected his QB by going to the wildcat with Darrel Williams behind the center. He gobbled up two nice games before yielding to Etling again. Etling promptly found, who else? Foster Moreau.
Then, of course, it came down to yet ANOTHER goal line call. Derrius Guice was fractions of an inches short, so Ed Orgeron obviously called on his kickers to make a steep angle kick. Umm.. okay? But the call worked, and Gonsulin banged in through, giving me a heart attack in the process. But with two minutes left and from the six inch line, kicking the field goal likely wasn’t the wisest course of action.
There was two minutes left for Notre Dame to respond. And in just two plays, Notre Dame found themselves in the end zone to take their first lead of the game. The LSU defense found a way to collapse twice in the fourth quarter.
LSU, forced into a passing offense, couldn’t muster a threat and the game ended in the most Danny Etling way possible, by him throwing a fourth and fifteen pass short to a man ten yards short of the sticks.