The Marcus Freeman era at Notre Dame began with a remarkable 29 moments. Unfortunately for the new coach of the Fighting Irish the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State on Saturday went 60 minutes.
The Fighting Irish saw a 21-point lead erased by the Cowboys, who went on to a 37-35 victory in the New Year’s Day Bowl in Arizona.
This was the biggest comeback victory in Oklahoma State history.
Oklahoma State had a chance to make it worse but turned the ball over twice in the red zone in the second half.
It mattered not as Notre Dame, coached by Freeman who took over when Brian Kelly left for LSU, failed to convert a fourth-and-7 with less than three minutes left and Oklahoma State turned that into a field goal making it a two-score lead.
Notre Dame scored a TD on a Jack Coen pass with 1:05 left but the damage had already occurred.
Spencer Sanders threw for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Oklahoma State quarterback also rushed for 125 yards.
Coen threw for a Fiesta Bowl record of 509 yards and 5 touchdowns. More than 300 of those passing yards came before halftime.
Oklahoma State was trailing 28-7 late in the second quarter.
Then, the floodgates erupted on Notre Dame’s defense.
Sanders connected with Tay Martin to close the gap to 14 on the final drive of the first half.
The duo connected for a pair of TD passes in the third quarter and suddenly the Fighting Irish’s 21-point lead was gone.
It got worse as Tanner Brown kicked a 38-yard field goal to give Oklahoma State a 31-28 lead entering the final quarter.
Former Oklahoma State running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas took notice.
The Cowboys’ three scoring drives in the third quarter accounted for 212 yards.
This wasn’t as bad as the regular-season loss to USC in 1974 when the Trojans overcame a 24-0 deficit en route to a 55-24 victory but it sure will feel like it to the Notre Dame faithful.