AUSTIN, Texas — Sunday night college football is unusual.
And boy, did Notre Dame’s game against Texas take that term to the extreme during the latter’s 50-47, double-overtime victory at Darrell K Royal Stadium, which was sealed with Tyrone Swoopes’ 6-yard scoring run.
Notre Dame’sShaun Crawford turned what would have been a three-point Irish deficit into a tie score when he returned a blocked point-after attempt by Jarron Jones 98 yards with 3 minutes, 29 seconds of regulation time left.
Late in the third quarter Crawford returned an interception 22 yards to Texas’ 6 to set up a touchdown that pulled the Irish within’ three, 31-28.
More good news for Notre Dame: It may have found a solution to a quarterback competition that spilled into the regular season.
Irish coach Brian Kelly couldn’t decide on a starter between DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire during camp, so Kizer seemingly decided for him in front of a school-record 102,315 at Darrell K Royal Stadium.
“It will be more by feel,” Kelly said when asked how he planned to use the QBs.
Kelly has to be feeling good about Kizer.
Notre Dame’s first drive culminated with his 13-yard touchdown pass to Equanimeous St. Brown six plays and 78 yards from where it began.
Its second-to last drive of the first half finished much the same way: Kizer finding St. Brown, this time for an acrobatic 30-yard score during which St. Brown somersaulted and tied the Irish 14-14 with Texas.
In between, Kizer spent every other series on the sideline in the first half while the Irish employed a two-quarterback system.
Zaire, who started the second half but wasn’t heard from again after Kizer skedaddled 29 yards for a touchdown with 7 minutes, 39 seconds left in the third. Kizer found Torii Hunter Jr. for a 5-yard scoring pass a little over two minutes later to pull the Irish within 31-28, on the heels of Crawford’s interception.
Kizer, a veteran who led the Irish to a last-minute victory at Virginia last year, proved his mettle again with a big 17-yard touchdown pass to Josh Adams with 10:57 left in the fourth for a 35-31 lead.
But there was some bad news for the Irish: Its defense, which allowed five scoring drives of at least 75 yards, four of which were touchdowns against a no-huddle, sometimes-two-quarterback system used by Texas.
The Longhorns had as many touchdowns (three) in the first half as they scored points in last season’s opener in South Bend, Ind. Two plays and 31 seconds into the second half, the drubbing continued when Texas’ freshman quarterback Shane Buechele embarrassed the back of the Irish defense with a 72-yard touchdown pass to John Burt to double its advantage to 28-14.
In even more bad news, Hunter left the game with 30 seconds left in the third quarter after catching what would have been the go-ahead touchdown pass from Kizer before a jarring hit by Texas’DeShon Elliott knocked the ball loose.
Justin Yoon’s subsequent field goal attempt was blocked, preserving Texas’ 31-28 advantage.
Kizer was diplomatic about the two-quarterback arrangement, at least publically. But he was wrong in one regard — the decision not being the quarterbacks’.
“We know that … is out of our hands and we have to go out there and do what we do,” Kizer said. “As long as you continue to compete at a high level, demand greatness out of yourself and focus up on yourself, then that will be fine.
“We want to win games; that’s one thing we can agree on. However coach Kelly wants to get to that point, that’s how we’ll go about it.”
From this point forward, it looks all signs point toward Kizer.