Recap by Joe Phelan | Art by Lauren Maier
The Citrus Bowl on New Years Day featured two of the “powerhouse” teams that were once a bigger deal earlier this season. Both Notre Dame (9-3) and LSU (9-3) had lost their playoff chances after heartbreaking losses to lower ranked teams, but Notre Dame and LSU faced each other in the Citrus Bowl, which was a great competitive matchup.
Conversely, the first half was boring and unproductive. Both team’s offense failed to perform and generate any yards on the pass and run game, as the battle remained scoreless until a late field goal that puts Notre Dame up with four seconds left. The starting Notre Dame quarterback, Brandon Wimbush, only completed three-of-eight passing for 52 yards and then was replaced by sophomore Ian Book who has not had much experiences on the field.
LSU punched themselves in the face, as they missed a couple of opportunities on putting up points on the board. Especially in the second quarter, the LSU kicker Jack Gonsoulin missed two consecutive short field goals. LSU and Notre Dame combined for a total of six punts in the first half.
LSU got a lucky opportunity in the beginning in the second half when the Notre Dame fumbled on a punt return. Being on Notre Dame’s 43-yard line, the LSU offense finally began to click to drive down the field and scored a touchdown with a connection between quarterback Danny Etling and halfback Derrius Guice for a 20-yard touchdown.
On the very next drive for Notre Dame, the backup quarterback Ian Book began to produce offensive plays, as they drove from their 25-yard line to LSU’s 15-yard but was ended by an absolutely destructive interception by LSU.
Notre Dame came back to kick a field goal, cutting the deficit to just one point, but LSU then scored a touchdown on a long drive with another connection between quarterback Danny Etling and halfback Derrius Guice for a two-yard touchdown.
With the surprising leadership by the backup, Notre Dame came right back to score a touchdown, as quarterback Ian Book threw a bullet into the endzone to wide-receiver Michael Young for six yards and a touchdown, along with a two-point conversion to tie the game up, 14-14.
Crunch time enters with six minutes left in the game. LSU completes another long drive but came up short with three points. The play of the game happened on the next Notre Dame possession when Ian Book took a shot down the field, as the wide-receiver Miles Boykin spectacularly grabs the pigskin and hauls it in with only one hand and sprints into the end zone for 55 yards to put Notre Dame up, 21-17, with only a minute left in the game. LSU failed to make the miracle happen, and they turn the ball over to end the game.
What was expected to be a spectacular game turned out like no one thought, the backup quarterback Ian Book really put the team on his back and took it to LSU, and Notre Dame wins the Citrus Bowl over LSU, 21-17.