Chicago

Notre Dame stunned 26-21 in home opener against Marshall

Chicago
Marshall wide receiver Corey Gammage catches a pass in front of Notre Dame cornerback Clarence Lewis. The Thundering Herd beat the Irish 26-21 on Saturday.
USA Today

Three minutes of play was all it took for the Marcus Freeman honeymoon era to come crashing down in a 26-21 loss to Marshall.

No. 8 Notre Dame, coming off a 21-10 road loss to Ohio State, returned to South Bend Saturday as a 20.5-point favorite against the Thundering Herd. While the Irish struggled to find their rhythm early, Marshall hung around before delivering a series of defensive blows en route to the program’s second ever top-10 win.

From the opening quarter, it was clear this Marshall team was not intimidated by the mystique and tradition of Notre Dame football. The Irish struggled to find their rhythm and Marshall proved plenty creative on the offensive side of the ball. 

The Thundering Herd’s patience eventually paid off as they were the first to get on the board, opening the second quarter with a touchdown to take a 6-0 lead. 

Notre Dame responded in the final minutes of the half with a score of their own. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner, making his home debut as a starter, ran the ball to put the Irish up 7-6.

Marshall added two more field goals and entered the fourth quarter with a 12-7 lead, but the game still felt like Notre Dame’s to lose.

 

In the final frame, Buchner once again used his legs to reclaim the lead for the Irish. But Marshall kept hanging around. 

Quarterback Henry Colombi, a transfer from Texas Tech, found tight end Devin Miller in the end zone, giving Marshall a four-point lead with just over five minutes remaining. 

When it seemed like Notre Dame would storm back down the field and put this away once and for all, Marshall delivered the nail in the coffin with back-to-back interceptions, one of which was a pick-six -- all in less than three minutes.

Notre Dame backup quarterback Drew Pyne found star tight end Michael Mayer for a touchdown with 14 seconds remaining, but it proved too little, too late for the Irish.

Freeman entered this season with tremendous buzz, christened as the next rising star in college football. After one season as defensive coordinator, he was hired to replace Brian Kelly, who had left the Irish in stunning fashion for LSU and the SEC. 

Freeman, 36, first took the reins in Notre Dame’s 37-35 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. With Saturday’s loss, Freeman is now the first coach in program history to lose their first three games.

Notre Dame will look to capture their first win under Freeman next week when they host the California Golden Bears.