Thursday, December 29, 2011
Halftime: Notre Dame 7, FSU 0
By Matt Fortuna
ORLANDO, Fla. — Notre Dame's offense was actually in position to score twice, which gives it the slight edge over Florida State's attack right now. Fittingly, a defensive touchdown has been the difference through 30 minutes so far.
Turning point: Manti Te'o hit Devonta Freeman, forcing the ball loose. Zeke Motta scooped it up and went 29 yards untouched for the only score of the game, giving Notre Dame a 7-0 lead. The play was all the more significant after the Irish gave away their chance earlier, as Tommy Rees threw an interception into the end zone on first-and-goal from the 4. Honorable mention goes to Michael Floyd's drop of a deep ball thrown by Rees on first-and-10 from the Irish 37.
Stat of the half: Floyd returned the game's first punt 41 yards, setting the Irish up at the Seminoles 37-yard line. Considering Notre Dame notched just three total yards in punt returns all season long, this takes the cake as best stat of the half.
Best player in the half: Jamoris Slaughter has a pair of sacks, a Champs Sports Bowl record. Really, the entire Notre Dame defensive front deserves a share of this honor. The Irish have sacked E.J. Manuel four times and have made life miserable for the Seminoles' offense, which also has a pair of false starts and is responsible for the game's only touchdown — just not in its favor. The Irish offense has not fared much better, actually getting outgained, 104 yards to 91. Rees has been sacked twice. Andrew Hendrix saw action on just one series.