Where did that come from? Notre Dame can't shake down Marshall's Thundering Herd

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Quick thoughts and observations by NDI columnist Tom Noie following Saturday’s upset of No. 8 Notre Dame by Marshall, 26-21, in front of 77,622 shocked fans at Notre Dame Stadium. 

Fourth quarter

∎ A pick-6 by starting QB Tyler Buchner, followed by an interception by Drew Pyne in relief all but sealed the deal for the Thundering Herd.

∎ Down by four with 5:16 to play against a team that was a 20.5-point underdog. Yikes.

∎ Funny what one big drive, with a few big plays and a huge penalty, can suddenly flip a game that many thought wasn’t going to flip. Then, it doesn't. Marshall just kept hanging around.

∎ Breathe....breathe....breathe.

∎ One big drive, or one big stop. Either one was going to win this one. First rule of both - get a first down/get off the field.

∎Former Irish quarterback Malik Zaire took to social media late in this one to wonder why Notre Dame recruits five-star quarterbacks only to run a “JV offense.” Ouch. Quick take from Twitter? Zaire’s not wrong. 

∎ Tyler Buchner still misses on too many throws that have to be completions at this level. Have to.

Third quarter

∎It got late in a hurry with the third-quarter clock moving. Marshall took a 12-7 lead, which felt more like 21-7. 

∎ Fourth and one from its own 48 should be automatic for Notre Dame. When it’s not, it’s trouble. It was trouble. 

∎ There were whispers of Ball State (2018) and Toledo (2021) floating around the press box walking taco bar line at halftime. Understandable. 

∎ Marcus Freeman has more voice-overs on the stadium video board in the first half (two) than the Irish had touchdowns (one). 

∎Asked fans on Twitter for one word to describe the first half. Most responses were unprintable. Most probably came from the same group that was quick to laugh at a former Irish coach and the way first game with his new team down south went sideways earlier in the week. 

∎Anyone going to hang that first half effort on pre-game Mass? 

∎ Nine punts were attempted by Notre Dame opponents through the season’s first seven quarters. The next yard the Irish gain on a punt return would be their first.  

Second quarter

∎ Three-touchdown favorites down 9-7 at half? At home? OK... 

∎ Find/feed tight end Michael Mayer. Not a hard game plan. 

∎ Notre Dame officials in the press box actually flipped to final minute of the Alabama-Texas game midway through the quarter. More drama than what was in front of us. 

∎ All the feel-goods of this one turned in a hurry. A Marshall touchdown. A Buchner interception throw. Boos in the second quarter of the home opener? Whoa. Tough crowd. 

∎Five quarters into the season, and Notre Dame’s offensive highlight was the first play from scrimmage at Ohio State when Buchner hit Lorenzo Styles for 54 yards. Woof. 

∎Remember, Harry Hiestand was supposed to fix all these O-line issues. 

∎NBC tossed in a graphic that stated Marshall brought in 24 transfers this season. That’s some serious use of the portal.  

∎Can Notre Dame borrow a page from Marshall’s screen game? Please? Five quarters into the season, it was non-existent for the Irish. 

First quarter

∎Jon Sot’s a good guy, but man, we’ve seen WAY too much of him already this season. A game and a half in, and he was the most valuable player. 

∎Blink and you might’ve missed Marshall’s first possession – three plays, two incomplete passes and a whopping 44 seconds off the game clock. 

∎Irish running backs get two carries for (-1) yards that first drive, which ended in a punt. It’s going to eventually turn for the run game, right? Right? Wasn’t getting Jarrett Patterson back at left guard supposed to make it all OK? 

∎Yeah, we get it, Saturday was Freeman’s first game as head coach. Sigh. 

∎ Former Notre Dame women’s soccer player Shannon Boxx (1999) was recognized midway through the period. She was good. World-class good. Hall of Fame good. Except she wore a Marshall-green T-shirt. 

Pre-game

∎All that green in the Notre Dame Stadium stands – Marshall or Notre Dame fans? Hard to tell. 

∎It was a storyline this week but not THE storyline as Marcus Freeman and Charles Huff became the first two Black head coaches to face each other in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. If you can coach, you can coach, no matter the color of your skin. Took too long for too many to understand that. 

∎ Apparently, nothing says “Shake Down the Thunder” like ”Thunderstruck.” Somewhere, AC/DC agrees. 

∎Saturday’s game drew one NFL scout. One. From the New York Giants. 

∎Irish are now 0-2 in pre-game coin tosses, for what that’s worth.  

∎ This one was a sellout in name only.