Irish season in review: ND 20, Purdue 17

Irish season in review: ND 20, Purdue 17
January 15, 2013, 11:33 pm
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Everett Golson completed 21 of 31 passes for 289 yards and accounted for two touchdowns, one throwing and one rushing. But that wasn't enough for the sophomore to finish Notre Dame's home opener against Purdue Sept. 8.

Notre Dame's offense stalled after Golson hit T.J. Jones for a touchdown early in the third quarter, and the Irish ultimately squandered a 10-point lead. Purdue tied things up with just over two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, with the game-tying touchdown coming a few plays after Golson fumbled deep in Irish territory.

The luster of Notre Dame's season-opening blowout win over Navy had worn off, and the Irish suddenly had their backs against the wall against a team they should've easily dispatched -- just like South Florida in 2011.

And then, the first twist of 2012 hit.

With the game tied at 17, it wasn't Golson who trotted on to the field to try to lead the Irish to a win. It was Tommy Rees, 2011's starting quarterback who was suspended for Notre Dame's first game of the 2012 season.

Rees marched Notre Dame down the field, and Kyle Brindza hit a field goal as time expired to give the Irish a win. After the game, Notre Dame didn't make Rees or Golson available to the media, certainly not quieting the whispers of a quarterback controversy. Rees had the confidence of his teammates, a confidence that took years to build. Golson didn't gain that complete confidence for another month and a half.

"There is no quarterback controversy," coach Brian Kelly insisted after the game. "Everett Golson is our starter. He will start against Michigan State. We know we have assets at that position with Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees."

Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin didn't have any intention of deposing Golson from his starting role, especially after just two games. But they showed a willingness to cut him off if they didn't feel he was able to perform throughout the season.

Sept. 8 was the first of those instances, and it set a precedent that was followed for the next few months.

Stay with CSNChicago.com every weekday through the end of January for game-by-game reviews of Notre Dame's run to the BCS Championship. Previous reviews: Notre Dame 50, Navy 10