Notre Dame escaped Philly with a 24-20 victory Saturday night against No. 21 Temple — a win that required a dramatic late-game comeback from quarterback DeShone Kizer.
Temple was just 4:45 away from pulling off the upset up 20-17 when Kizer rallied the troops with a game-winning drive that kept the Irish's playoff hopes intact. Here's a few thoughts from a game that left Notre Dame 7-1 and fifth in the recently released College Football Playoff rankings:
What I liked: The most impressive part of the win might have been Kizer’s ability to shake off two red-zone interceptions and take the Irish down the field with his team trailing late. In just his sixth college start, and third on the road, Kizer authored a six-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller with 2:09 to go. Four plays later, KeiVarae Russell sealed the deal with an amazing interception.
With C.J. Prosise held in check nearly all night (25 yards on 14 carries), Kizer also gave the Irish a lift in the running game with 143 total yards and two touchdowns. That included a 79-yard scoring run near the end of the second half that staked ND to a 14-10 halftime lead. He added 299 yards on 23-of-36 passing.
Fuller came up big again when it counted with the game-winning touchdown, but was held down the rest of the evening. Chris Brown and Torii Hunter made up for it with 72 and 62 yards receiving, respectively. On special teams, C.J. Sanders continued to look good, returning three kicks for an average of 22 yards each. Justin Yoon hit his only field goal attempt and Tyler Newsome once again struggled in the punting game.
What I didn't like: Take away Kizer's two interceptions in the red zone and this should have been a blow out for the Irish. Still, Brian Kelly kept the team focused and pulled out a tough win. Also of note is how Kelly lost his cool on his assistant who was jawing at the refs. Kelly needs to control the sideline, but he probably went too far with his reaction. Hopefully they can handle this internally.
What's next: The Irish have Pitt next, who is coming off a disappointing loss and a fall from the top 25. If the Irish can avoid a let-down, they should be poised to beat Wake Forest and Boston College and position themselves for a potential CFP play-in game against Stanford to cap the season.
One more note: The Irish received some good recruiting news after Khalid Kareem, one of the top defensive end recruits in the country, decommitted from Alabama and chose Notre Dame. The Detroit Free Press had the story.