Three defining plays from Notre Dame football's Sun Bowl blowout

The Notre Dame football team looked good from beginning to end in their win over Oregon State, but there are three plays that stood out.

Notre Dame's Jeremiyah Love (12) at the 90th Sun Bowl game against Oregon State in El Paso, Texas
Notre Dame's Jeremiyah Love (12) at the 90th Sun Bowl game against Oregon State in El Paso, Texas / GABY VELASQUEZ/ EL PASO TIMES / USA
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The Notre Dame football team is likely still glowing over its blowout win over Oregon State in the Sun Bowl. That’s the nice thing about season finales. There’s no reason for coach speak about leaving a win in the rear view mirror.

The Irish can look back at Friday’s win over the Beaves and think about what went right and what went wrong. Thanks to the 40-8 victory, there was almost nothing that went wrong.

There have been few Notre Dame football games that looked as complete. One would have to go back to USC to see Al Golden’s defense dominate while the Golden Domers’ offense was generating points in handfuls.

There are plays that stood out on Friday that really allowed Notre Dame to romp. There were plays that turned the tide early and there were plays that kept the Oregon State Beavers down when some teams might have found a way to steal back momentum.

There were three plays in particular that were game-defining. They might have even been season-defining. If there was more of the season to play.

Notre Dame football’s first touchdown pass

It was said over and over that in order for Notre Dame to win the Sun Bowl, they needed to get off to a fast start. They also needed to see Steve Angeli play well in his first start. Both happened. 

Angeli led the Irish down the field 96 yards in their first drive. He capped it off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jayden Thomas. “Setting the tone” can be overused, but that drive and that throw definitely set the tone for the Fighting Irish.

The fake punt stop

Oregon State punted in each of its first four drives and it appears that the Beavers were trying to find a way to get some momentum when they attempted a fake punt at the end of their fourth drive.

On 4th and 6 from Oregon State’s own 49-yard line, Defensive end Joshua Burnham got through the line and tackled Jesiah Irish, was carried the ball after a direct snap. The tackle led to a 5-yard loss and turnover on downs.

After the game, Notre Dame football head coach Marcus Freeman said that his staff noticed some “discussion” on the OSU sideline before the trick play and he and special teams coordinator Marty Biagi thought a trick play was coming.

Angeli to Faison

Up 17-0 in the 3rd quarter, the Notre Dame football team wanted to put the game away. They did exactly that when Angeli threw his second of three touchdown passes. This one went to Jordan Faison who had a surprisingly good 2023 season and could be gearing up for a big 2024.

Faison had a hell of a Sun Bowl. The man who started the season as a walk-on put the finishing touches on a five-catch, 115-yard performance with a 13-yard touchdown reception that put Notre Dame football up 24-0 and showed that the rout was on.