Detractors of Notre Dame will say the Irish got lucky on Saturday, and there is something to that.
Notre Dame fans will say the Irish were resilient. There's something to that too.
Either way, Notre Dame's dreams of an undefeated season and a spot in the BCS Championship Game are still alive. Notre Dame trailed 20-6 in the fourth quarter. The Irish threw an interception with 3:59 remaining in regulation, trailing 20-12. Pitt lined up for a relatively easy 33-yard field goal in the second overtime that would have won the game.
And yet, Notre Dame survived all of it. The Irish, which came into the game third in the BCS standings, are 9-0 and still very much alive in the national championship race.
While luck was with the Irish, quarterback Everett Golson deserves credit for rallying Notre Dame when things looked very bleak.
With just under four minutes left, Golson threw an interception on second and goal. It was a bad interception. He locked onto his receiver and cornerback K'Waun Williams read his eyes, came off his man and picked it off.
[More NCAA football: Hoosiers on track for BCS bowl — seriously]
Credit Golson, and coach Brian Kelly, for what happened next.
Notre Dame's defense forced a punt, and Golston stayed in the game. Kelly stuck with him instead of going to Tommy Rees, even though he has yanked Golson many times this season. It would have been easy for Kelly had put Rees in with the game on the line. Instead, Golson — yes, along with some luck - saved Notre Dame's shot at a championship.
Golson quickly moved the Irish downfield on a 2-play drive. He completed a 45-yard pass to DaVaris Davis down to the 5-yard line. Then he scrambled around and hit Theo Riddick for the touchdown. Notre Dame needed a 2-point conversion, and Golson made a great play. A throwback pass to the tight end sneaking into the end zone was sniffed out by Pitt's defense, so Golson had to improvise. He tucked the ball and ran, finding a hole and diving into the end zone to tie the game.
The teams traded field goals in the first overtime, then the Irish got their most fortunate moment.
In the second overtime, Notre Dame's Cierre Wood was diving into the end zone when the ball came loose, and Pitt recovered the fumble. Panthers kicker Kevin Harper lined up for a 33-yard field goal to win the game on the ensuing possession. The snap was high and Harper barely missed wide right. Notre Dame was still, incredibly, alive.
Pitt got a field goal to begin the third overtime. Golson made the biggest plays of Notre Dame's game-winning drive. On third and 3, Golson ran for 6. Golson's quarterback sneak won the game.
The win wasn't very pretty. But Notre Dame's unblemished record still looks pretty good.
H/T for video to The Big Lead
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