OSU vs. Notre Dame football: Five takeaways from the Cowboys' Fiesta Bowl win against the Fighting Irish

Scott Wright
Oklahoman

GLENDALE, Ariz. — An all-time comeback earned a win for the ages.

Ninth-ranked Oklahoma State erased a three-touchdown deficit to defeat No. 5 Notre Dame 37-35 in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday at State Farm Stadium.

OSU fell behind 28-7 in the second quarter, but scored 30 straight points to seal the victory.

It was the biggest comeback in school history, and perhaps the most notable win ever for the program, considering the opponent and the circumstances. 

OSU finished the season 12-2, the program’s second-ever 12-win season.

Cowboy quarterback Spencer Sanders threw for 371 yards with four touchdowns and rushed for 125 yards. 

Brennan Presley and Tay Martin each went over the 100-yard mark receiving, and the defense allowed only one touchdown in Notre Dame’s final eight possessions. 

Here are four more takeaways from the Cowboys’ monumental victory:

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Jan 1, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (20) celebrates with the trophy after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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Seniors go out big

Not only did the OSU senior class close the season with a huge win over a brand-name program. A couple of those seniors had big performances in doing so.

Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez had 11 tackles to surpass the 400 mark for his career, becoming just the fourth OSU player to reach that mark. He also had a key interception when Notre Dame was driving with a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

Martin had three touchdown receptions and 104 yards on 10 catches, passing the 1,000-yard mark for the season. His three touchdown receptions tied the Fiesta Bowl record.

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Jack Coan, first-half superstar

Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan had been solid all regular season, but he looked unstoppable in the first half Saturday. 

Coan was 24-of-33 for 342 yards and four touchdowns in the first half as Notre Dame built a 28-14 lead.

It was particularly crucial because Notre Dame could not run the ball, totaling just 16 rushing yards in the first half. 

For the game, Coan finished 38-of-68 passing for 509 yards, though he added only one more touchdown in the second half — that coming in the final minutes with the Cowboys leading by nine — and he was intercepted once. 

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Mayer impact

Early on, OSU seemed to have an answer for Notre Dame’s top receiving option, tight end Michael Mayer. But once Coan was able to find him, Mayer broke through.

Coan hit Mayer for a 16-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, Mayer’s first catch of the day as he fought off tight coverage from OSU safety Kolby Harvell-Peel. Mayer added another TD later in the quarter, again tightly covered, this time by Tanner McCalister. 

Mayer finished the first half with five catches for 43 yards and two scores on six targets. 

But his second-half impact was less significant, adding two catches for 29 yards to finish with totals of seven catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns.

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LD Brown returns

OSU super-senior running back LD Brown made his return from an undisclosed injury that kept him out since mid-September. Brown played in the first three games of the season before being sidelined. 

Brown’s second carry of the game went for 22 yards and jumpstarted OSU’s first touchdown drive of the game. 

Having played in just four games, the sixth-year senior could potentially be eligible for a seventh year because of the injury. 

Brown ended the day with three rushes for 27 yards and one reception for three yards.