Marcus Freeman’s debut includes record broken as Notre Dame falters

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Marcus Freeman’s debut as a head coach was unlike any other – it started in a New Years Six bowl.

And at first it looked promising as the Fighting Irish stood out. Prior to the Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma State had allowed no more than 24 points in the first half of 13 games, but that quickly changed as offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and Notre Dame scored 28 points. The maximum the Cowboys have allowed in an entire game this season was 33 points, coming from Oklahoma.

Quarterback Jack Coan threw all four touchdowns without a single interception in the first two quarters. Receiver corps numbers greatly made up for the rushing squad. The offensive unit had totaled over 300 yards while still in the second quarter, and the defense held the Cowboys at bay with just one touchdown per quarter in the first half. At the end of the game, Coan pitched for a career-high and Fiesta Bowl record of 509 yards and five touchdowns.

But then the second half showed a different side of Notre Dame as the Cowboys quickly woke up out of the gate. Oklahoma State scored 17 points in the third quarter, including two touchdowns from Tay Martin. Tanner Brown then scored three field goals, one with six seconds left in the third and two in the fourth.

As the defense seemed to waver in the face of Oklahoma state’s growing offense, the Fighting Irish also seemed to waver, losing their spark. Notre Dame didn’t score a goal in the third and Coan threw up his only interception of the game with six minutes and 35 seconds left in the fourth.

The quarterback rebounded, throwing a 25-yard touchdown at Kevin Austin Jr. but it just wasn’t enough as the Fighting Irish fell 37-35. our Lady does not have has won a New Years Six Bowl since 1994.

Although Oklahoma State posted 30 unanswered points as they were down 28-7, Freeman and the Fighting Irish lost by just two points in a major bowl game, showing some promise in this next chapter which had a big question mark over the last month after Brian Kelly left for LSU.

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