Notre Dame got their season back on track with a huge neutral site victory on Saturday night, defeating the No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils 37-34 in Arlington.
Arizona State took the first lead in the second quarter on two Zane Gonzalez field goals, but the Irish fought back with a Tommy Rees touchdown pass to make it 7-6. Taylor Kelly and Rees traded touchdown tosses in the last 90 seconds of the period, making it 14-13 Notre Dame heading into the half.
The Irish seemed to put it away in the third quarter, dominating the Sun Devils and expanding the lead to 24-13 on a 53-yard field goal and a 21-yard touchdown pass from Rees.
Arizona State was able to tie it up in the fourth quarter, however, as Orashon Irabor returned a Rees interception 37 yards for a touchdown, and after an Irish field goal Kelly completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to De'Marieya Nelson to make it 27-27.
Notre Dame took the lead on a 25-yard field goal by Kyle Brindza, but Arizona State received the ball with a good chance to tie it up or take the lead. Kelly was unable to execute, however, throwing an interception to Dan Fox that was returned 14 yards for the clinching score. The Sun Devils were able to score a late touchdown on a pass to Marion Grice, but it was too little, too late.
Paul Rigney at One Foot Down credited the Irish's stout defense with the big win.
Notre Dame's defense looked every bit like last year's dominant squad as they forced three turnovers out of the normally potent Arizona State offense.
Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly was harassed all night by the Irish defense, who held the Sun Devils to their lowest yardage output all season.
Kerry Crowley from House of Sparky said that while the loss was disappointing for Arizona State, it does not make a difference in the team's larger goals.
There's a myriad of ways the Sun Devils can look at this game. They can take the outlook that they lost out on a spoon-fed opportunity on a national stage. They can dwell on the fact that their running game never got started and has struggled through most of the season. Or they can realize that this game doesn't affect their goal of a Pac-12 championship and they can get back to work as soon as they hit the practice field on Tuesday.