Notre Dame Football: Greg Reid

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Michael Floyd's 100th catch of his history-making season ended up being his last in a Notre Dame uniform. But despite not being able to finish the final quarter of his college career, the senior receiver managed to exit in style.

[+] EnlargeMichael Floyd
Brad Barr/US PresswireMichael Floyd's final catch for Notre Dame accounted for the Irish's only offensive touchdown of the night.
That last catch may be the one replayed the most (it reached No. 3 on SportsCenter's top plays segment Thursday night), as it accounted for the Irish's only offensive touchdown on the night and their last of the season. Floyd made a circus 5-yard grab from Tommy Rees, ripping the ball out of the hands of Florida State cornerback Greg Reid and then bobbling the ball five times before securing it and absorbing a hit from Nigel Bradham.

Reid (concussion) and Floyd (upper-body injury) both left the game afterward.

"He's such a good player," Rees said of Floyd. "His concentration to find it and secure it was unbelievable."

Floyd finished the night with five catches for 41 yards. He also returned the game's first punt 41 yards, a huge jolt to an Irish punt return unit that averaged 0.3 yards per return during the regular season.

"Just an incredible competitor," coach Brian Kelly said of Floyd. "This is my 22nd year and I've had great players, guys that have gone on to great careers in the NFL, are doctors and lawyers. And you remember the guys that overcome, the guys that compete in battle, and he did that today."

Floyd finished the season with 1,147 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches. His 100 receptions this year are a Notre Dame single-season record.

Notre Dame's 10th two-time MVP, Floyd sits atop the school list for career receptions (271), touchdown receptions (37) and receiving yards (3,686), though he was less than pleased with how it ended.

"It's very frustrating," he said of the 18-14 loss. "To end the season you always want to get a 'W.' Unfortunately we didn't get the job done tonight. But you leave a lot of positive things and the underclassmen going back to school, making sure they do the little things right, stay disciplined and show some leadership."

That leadership mantle was taken away from Floyd after he was arrested for drunken driving in March, his third alcohol-related brush with the law since 2009. An offseason suspension followed, and his role as a season captain was stripped. Floyd's probation status from school prohibited him from being a game captain during the regular season.

Having graduated this month, Floyd was named a game captain for the Champs Sports Bowl, joining season captain Harrison Smith for the pregame coin toss.

"That's something that he's deserved," Smith said. "He's done everything that people have asked of him, whether it's on the field, off the field, in the classroom. And he's earned it. He's worked his way to this point and he definitely deserved it, and it was an honor being a captain alongside him."

Irish season ends just like it began

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
11:08
PM ET


ORLANDO, Fla. -- One team surrendered five sacks, averaged 1.4 yards per rush and gave up a defensive touchdown.

This was the other coach after the game:

"We turn the ball over. And we cannot win football games at the highest level if we continue to turn the ball over. The coach has got to get better. The players got to get better and we have to solve this issue if we're going to be an elite football team."

That was Brian Kelly, because his Notre Dame team gave up four sacks, gave the ball away three times -- including two end-zone interceptions -- and was actually outgained by 10 yards in a Champs Sports Bowl that was anything but an offensive clinic.

Florida State emerged on the winning end of an 18-14 contest Thursday, bouncing back from an atrocious first half and a two-touchdown deficit to rattle off 15 points in the final quarter and finish 9-4 on the season.

Thirty minutes before the final horn, it looked like the Seminoles would have trouble even getting on the board.

Four sacks, two false-start penalties and a fumble that Irish safety Zeke Motta returned 29 yards for the half's lone score highlighted a less-than-inspiring offensive performance. Much of the third quarter played out in similar fashion, though Dustin Hopkins did manage a 42-yard field goal to get Florida State on the board -- after a 77-yard kickoff return was followed by a four-play, minus-3 yard drive.

But EJ Manuel scraped together the game's most impressive drive just as the third quarter was winding down, taking the Seminoles 84 yards in 10 plays, the last of which -- an 18-yard touchdown pass to Bert Reed -- kicked off a fourth quarter that the Irish will want back.

The second half of Notre Dame's two-quarterback system, Andrew Hendrix, threw an interception to Nigel Bradham three plays later, and Manuel capitalized two plays after that by connecting with game MVP Rashad Greene for a 15-yard score to make it 15-14. Greene finished with 99 yards on five catches.

[+] EnlargeTerrence Brooks
AP Photo/John RaouxThis interception by Terrence Brooks, right, ended Notre Dame's chances at a late comeback.
Field position, poor punting and a facemask penalty allowed Notre Dame to begin its second-to-last drive at Florida State's 28, but the Irish's chance went out the door when Tommy Rees' pass for the double-covered John Goodman was picked off in the end zone by Terrence Brooks.

Rees took the Irish to the Florida State 4 on the their first drive of the game, but was picked off in the end zone that time by Lamarcus Joyner.

Notre Dame entered with the plan to play both sophomore quarterbacks, and Rees saw most of the action. He completed 16 of 27 passes for 163 yards and a highlight-reel worthy touchdown, which Michael Floyd hauled in from five yards out after ripping the ball away from Greg Reid, bobbling it five times and hanging on for good while absorbing a hit from Bradham. Both Floyd (upper-body injury) and Reid (concussion) were hurt on the play and did not return.

Hendrix, who was used sparingly throughout the season, finished 3 of 8 for 24 yards.

"It's all those things -- frustrating, disappointing," Rees said. "It's not something you can hang your head on, though. As a quarterback and a leader you got to keep your head up regardless of the situation and be there for your teammates. The worst part is sending your seniors off with a loss, and a game that we had an opportunity to win makes it that much worse."

Kelly laughed at the notion that he started at Notre Dame in 2010 as an offensive guy -- "Well, I guess I'm not an offensive guy" -- and said earlier that the unit has some catching up to do after the performance his defense put forth.

"It's nice to be able to talk about a Notre Dame football team that plays championship defense, because they did that today," Kelly said. "Now we've got to get our offense obviously to play that level as well, and that will be the next step for our football program, is getting our offense to play at the same level that our defense is evolving to."

Coming off an 8-5 campaign, Notre Dame entered 2011 with BCS-bowl hopes and a quarterback controversy. On its first drive of the season, a goal-line fumble portended a two-week opening stretch that saw two close losses, 10 total turnovers and postseason goals all but go up in flames.

More than 16 weeks later, the campaign ended in a turnover-plagued slugfest that saw Notre Dame's final chance get picked off in the end zone.

"We see it as we could've run the table this year," Floyd said, "but with our mistakes and not being disciplined at certain times, we fell short."

3Q: Notre Dame 14, FSU 3

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
8:01
PM ET
ORLANDO, Fla. — The fourth quarter begins with the Notre Dame holding a two-possession lead over Florida State, with the Seminoles offense finally putting together a nice drive.

FSU has gained 63 yards on nine plays and has reached the Irish 21, giving the offense as good a chance to get into the end zone as it has had all night.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, could not get anything going after a productive half-opening drive that ended with Michael Floyd's circus touchdown catch.

The Seminoles defense has been as good as advertised and is capable of making a game-changing play, something it might need to do if the offense cannot keep up this newfound burst of consistency. It will be without Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid, however, who have suffered a leg injury and concussion, respectively. That is a big blow for the Seminoles' secondary, and you wonder if Notre Dame might take some chances downfield despite having the lead the next time it gets the ball.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Bowl season has found its best play of 2011.

Michael Floyd's 5-yard touchdown grab was anything but simple, as Tommy Rees' fade pass was underthrown and nearly picked off by Greg Reid. Floyd managed to pry it loose from Reid before engaging in a juggling act — all the while absorbing a hit from Nigel Bradham just as he secured the ball.

Touchdown, Irish.

Floyd's 100th catch of the season made it 14-0 Notre Dame, which is anything but your conventional two-score lead in a game that has lacked for offensive fire power.

The Seminoles appeared to be on the verge of closing the gap after Lamarcus Joyner's 77-yard kickoff return, but the offense followed with a three-and-out that was punctuated by a — you guessed it — sack of EJ Manuel, this time by Aaron Lynch for a loss of 15.

Dustin Hopkins kicked a 42-yard field goal to get FSU on the board and cut the lead to 14-3.

The Irish offense, meanwhile, went with both quarterbacks on its first drive of the half, putting Andrew Hendrix in at the 23 yard line. He carried it three times for 18 yards before Rees entered at first-and-goal from the 5, setting up the touchdown play.

George Atkinson deserves credit for setting the Irish up so well with a 37-yard kickoff return to open the half, as well as stopping Joyner from going all the way on the ensuing kickoff.

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