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The Top Notre Dame Moments of 2012: PURDUE

The OFD staff discusses two big moments from the home opener against the Purdue Boilermakers.


Remember this game? Well let's revisit it then if you don't.

This game had us questioning a lot of things after (what would be, prior to Alabama) a season-low 52 yards rushing. Was Harry Heistand a good hire? How long would it take for the offensive line to gel with their new teaching? Could Golic and Cave play any worse? Was Purdue that good?

Of course we found out that in fact Purdue was not that good, and the offensive line did improve after this stink bomb.

Here are the two biggest moments from the second game of the season.


Tommy Rees 10-yard 1st Down Pass to John Goodman

Down & Distance: Irish ball, 3rd & 6 at the ND 49

Score: Tied at 17

The Situation: Notre Dame had led for most of the second half, but a fumble at the Irish 13-yard line by Everett Golson set up a Purdue touchdown to tie the game with just over 2 minutes to go. After injuring his hand on the fumble, Golson was benched in favor of Tommy Rees who came out on the field to a chorus of boos from the home Irish crowd. A holding call moved the ball 10 yards up field, but Rees looked sloppy on an incompletion and short 4-yard pass to Toma setting up a crucial 3rd down play.

Eric: Ah, the football Gods smiled on us for this play. After a near heart attack that they didn't get the play off, my next thought was that Rees air mailed this ball out of bounds. The play got off so late, he had immediate pressure in his face, and I really thought he was throwing the ball away. Then I realized he didn't have the arm strength to make it across the field and fully out of bounds. Such a Tommy Rees play! I think that's a compliment.

Mouth: I still do not believe that this play got off and was a completion. I must still be dreaming.

Jim: I realize that the decision to bring back FC Goodman for a 5th year was a bit controversial (even though scholarships were available), I think he earned it here. Fun Goody stat: in 2012 he caught 7 passes--6 of which went for first downs (3 TDs). His other catch went for 9 yards. Who would have thought that he would have the second most productive career from the 2008 WR recruits?

Whiskey: Oh remember the outrage. Tommy Rees is in the game nooooooooooooo!!!! He really did answer the mail with the Goodman completion though. Is it possible that that might actually be the most Tommy Rees play ever? It really is even more fitting that the completion was to Goodman.

Eric: Is this where we talk about Rees being booed?

Fishoutofwater: At this point, doesn't that just make the story better? That play was perfectly Tommy Rees. My favorite thing may be the attempt to call the non-existent time out and Goodman watching the play clock instead of the snap. That play sums up so many of those crucial moments in the 2012 season that some how, some way, just barely swung towards the Irish when it seemed like they'd so often swung against. It's also pretty fun to hear Rees and Goodman (and Toma) talk about that drive.

Eric: Has there been a more even-tempered football player at Notre Dame than Rees? Can anyone remember him getting really excited over something? Also, pretty excited that we're no longer wearing those Werther's Original helmets like Purdue. This was the only game I attended on the year and the helmets looked so amazing out there.

Jim: It must be the hipster glasses for TR--not sure how else to explain the calm demeanor. Does anyone have that photo? Anyone? Bueller?



Kyle Brindza's 27-yard Game-Winning Field Goal

Down & Distance: Irish ball, 4th & 10 from the Purdue 10

The Score: 17-17 tie

The Situation: A continuation of the above moment, the Irish kept driving the ball down field to win the game. Rees flung two incompletions but then hooked up with Robby Toma for a key 21-yard completion on 3rd down that brought the Irish in to comfortable field goal territory. With the clock winding down to zero, Riddick ran twice and picked up a first down and Notre Dame set itself up for a clean look at a field goal.

Eric: How nervous were we for this kick? I felt pretty good about it, myself. After the Toma catch that advanced the ball into field goal territory I was psychologically trying to process how we barely beat Purdue. I wasn't really upset per se, but I didn't feel much jubilation once Brindza's kick when through the uprights. It was a long and mostly silent walk back to White Field. Welcome to Notre Dame fanhood!

Mouth: What gives rise to an "upset per se" condition? We now know that barely beating Purdue does not constitute an "upset per se" condition? What about barely beating Pitt? No, not for me either. Getting curb-stomped by Bama in the ‘Ship? Not per se qua per se. I would have to hearken back to the Weis years to come up with a set of events giving rise to an "upset per se" condition. I would hypothesize that it involves an excessive ratio of turnstile offensive tackles to wins over Navy.

Jim: A win is a win is a win. Or something like that. It was about as easy a kick as a place kicker gets--under 30 yds, straight on. Basically a glorified extra point (says the guy who never had to kick a game winner). I think I was just relieved he made it. In a lot of ways, the Purdue game brought the team back down to earth and helped set up the ‘12 run--they found out it wouldn't be easy against anyone.

Whiskey: Who thought 12-0 was a possibility after this game ended? Not this guy. But in retrospect this game is one that you can look back on and really see just how far the program moved forward over the course of a single season. Back in September who knew?

alstein: Back in September, there were many among us who were trying to convince ourselves that Purdue could win the B1G. Nope, turns out ND just played like crap, especially the offensive line. Even still, I don't think this kick elated anyone or even brought on a sense of relief. It was a disappointment and certainly didn't make it seem like this team was on a BCS trajectory like so many of us predicted.

A friend of mine wrote on Facebook (since deleted) right after this kick, "Brian Kelly you have no idea how to build a football program", which in retrospect will never not be humorous to me. I also think everyone started to ignore this game more and more as the season went on, and this game in the context of everything else just made less and less sense.

Fishoutofwater: I remember being happy for Brindza, a sophomore who missed his first ever field goal try for the Irish at the beginning of this game, then made his last to win it. Brindza didn't start the season as our placekicker and had a miss and a make in the Purdue game when he lined up for this try.

Basic as it was, I think that kind of pressure made it a crucial play not just for earning that 2-0 starting record (something we hadn't seen since 2008), but for setting Brindza up for a season in which he was asked to attempt more field goals than any other kicker in the country, but one. As the season wore on, Brindza earned the school record for field goals made in a single season (23) and tied the school record for field goals made in a single game (5). He also hit the second longest field goal in Notre Dame history to close out the regular season. And it started for him here.

Eric: I think Brindza's going to be really, really good. Like I've said a million times we were spoiled by the long streaks by Tausch and Ruffer in the past but Brindza has that clutch kick in his blood.

Jim: I remember the Purdue-to-B1G Championship game talk. Then they Purdue'd all over themselves. Good point by fish though, 2-0 was something that hadn't been seen for a long, long time. Too long.

Eric: It's going to be a new era for Purdue in 2013 though!