It Was Over When ...Trailing 41-31 with 3:50 remaining, Irish quarterback Everett Golson fired a sideline pass to wide receiver Corey Robinson. The ball glanced off of Robinson's hands and fell into those of Arizona State cornerback Lloyd Carrington.
58 yards later, Carrington sealed the visitor's fate with his team's second interception touchdown of the contest.
Offensive MVP -- Amir CarlisleThe senior slot receiver sparked Notre Dame's comeback efforts in the second half, catching three passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Carlisle's three grabs resulted in gains of 32, 35, and 25 yards, the latter a touchdown that brought Notre Dame to within three, 34-31 with 6:37 remaining.
The Sun Devils reeled off 21 consecutive points thereafter.
Offensive Game BallsFellow slot receiver C.J. Prosise also put forth his best Saturday, catching a 59-yard pass near the end of the first half that set up Notre Dame's first touchdown three snaps later, a 9-yard fade route to Will Fuller.
Fuller's score cut the Sun Devils seemingly insurmountable lead of 34-3 to 34-10 with just 11 seconds remaining in the opening stanza. (Fuller finished with a game-high six receptions for 95 yards.) Prosise added a 26-yard catch-and-run, with at least 23 occurring after the catch, on a tunnel screen from Golson.
-- Senior running back Cam McDaniel was the team's lead runner in the second stanza, scoring on two short touchdown runs that cut into the host's lead, 34-17 with 5:12 in the third quarter, then 34-24 with 9:12 remaining in the fourth.
McDaniel was inserted for his pass protection acumen, a role in which starter Tarean Folston greatly struggled in the first half. (My live review of the contest credited McDaniel with three crucial blitz pickups on Notre Dame second-half scoring drives.)
-- Golson played the role of goat early but recovered for a 27-minute game span to help bring his team back. He completed 22 of 41 passes for 446 yards and two touchdowns. Golson though was in part responsible for a whopping five turnovers including four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Each of Golson's four picks were first tipped including one as he was hit from behind that landed in the hands of ASU cornerback Kweishi Brown inside the Sun Devils end zone, killing the first drive of the second-half for Golson's Irish.
Defensive MVP -- Matthias FarleyThe Irish nickel defender made his presence felt with a sack, two tackles-for-loss, and a momentum-changing interception he returned 27 yards to set up an Irish touchdown.
Farley's sack came with the Irish trailing 34-17 and Arizona State ahead of the chains, facing 2nd-and-2 at midfield. The 8-yard loss allowed the Irish to pressure on 3rd-and-10 and force a Sun Devils punt. His interception occurred one series later after the Irish botched a chip-shot field goal attempt (poor snap, worse hold) when the Charlotte, N.C. native stepped in front of a Taylor Kelly pass at the Irish 23-yard line, returning it to the 50.
This time Notre Dame's offense capitalized, scoring on a one-yard run to cut the lead to 34-20 with 9:12 to play.
Defensive Game BallsFreshman defensive end Andrew Trumbetti made four tackles of impact including one for a loss of four yards, first shedding his block before crashing down on ASU running back D.J. Foster. Trumbetti added a second-down stop of two yards that helped contribute to a Sun Devils punt two snaps later while also making a first-down stop after two yards with the Irish within three points, 34-31.
The Sun Devils though converted a 40-yard gain to RB Demario Richard one snap later, the ball moving down to the Irish goal line to set up a back-breaking score, 41-31 with 4:29 remaining.
-- Fellow defensive lineman Sheldon Day was solid, recording five stops including one for loss, and another for no gain on 3rd and 4 to force an Arizona State field goal.
-- Sophomore cornerback Cole Luke broke up three Taylor Kelly passes but, like classmate and first-time starter Devin Butler (two PD), was not stout in run defense. Two of Luke's pass breakups forced ASU punts including one on third down.
Special Teams MVP -- Kyle BrindzaNotre Dame's triple-threat drilled a field goal from 46 yards out, punted four times for an average of 44.2 yards including two dropped inside the ASU 20-yard line with a 53-yarder intermixed.
Of Brindza's six kickoffs, four were touchbacks with returns ending at the ASU 9-yard line and 15-yard line, respectively.
Brindza's would-be 31-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter was botched when holder Hunter Smith failed to handle an imperfect snap by Scott Daly.
Just the Facts-- Golson's 446 passing yards are the most by an Irish quarterback since Jimmy Clausen threw for 450 in a 23-21 loss to Navy in 2009. The total is the highest of the Brian Kelly regime, and among Notre Dame's top 10 passing yardage performances in the Kelly era, five resulted in defeat.
-- According to ESPN.com, the Sun Devils defense sent five or more pass rushers on 73 percent of Golson's drop-backs. Golson completed less than half of his passes and committed each of his five turnovers as a result.
-- After a turnover-free first three games, Golson has been responsible, or partly responsible for a whopping 19 turnovers (fumbles or interceptions) over the last six contests.
-- Notre Dame trailed 34-3 late in the first half but eventually cut Arizona State's margin to 34-31. Had the Irish prevailed it would have tied as the second-biggest comeback in FBS history.
-- Arizona State head coach Todd Graham has defeated Brian Kelly and Notre Dame twice over the last six football seasons (Tulsa, ASU). Graham joins Dennis Erickson (Miami, Oregon State), Homer Jones (Iowa, USC), Johnny Majors (Pittsburgh, Tennessee), and Nick Saban (Michigan State, Alabama) as the only coaches to beat Notre Dame with two different schools.
-- Graham's defenses from Tulsa (2010), Pittsburgh (2011) and Arizona State (2013-14) have scored four defensive touchdowns vs. Kelly's Irish.
Graham's defensive numbers vs. the Irish in four outings including a remarkable 22 tackles-for-loss, 22 passes defended, 10 interceptions (four returned for touchdowns), three fumble recoveries, 10 sacks, a blocked punt, and a two-point conversion attempt by Notre Dame that Graham's Tulsa squad returned for two points of its own. Throw in a punt return touchdown for good measure.
-- ASU has 36 tackles for loss in their last four games as part of a five-game winning streak.