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By Scott Haynes, FBS Senior Editor - Archive - Email
Classic matchup leaves no Irish eyes smiling
Brian Kelly The Irish must pick up the pieces and try to fight their way back into the playoff picture.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - In a football game that lived up to all its billing, Saturday's clash of the titans in Tallahassee came down to the waning moments, and an official's call.

After falling behind Florida State in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame marched down the field and completed a fourth-down and goal from the two-yard line with 13 seconds remaining, seemingly snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

However, amidst the Irish celebration, an ominous yellow flag sat on the ground, as Notre Dame was called for offensive pass interference, negating the go-ahead touchdown to Corey Robinson and handing the 31-27 victory over to the hometown Seminoles, who get to continue their run towards the college football playoffs.

Notre Dame wideouts C.J. Prosise and Will Fuller were engaged with FSU defenders off the snap and the official that threw the flag determined it was the Irish that were guilty of an infraction.

Even after the game in his press conference, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly wasn't exactly sure what happened.

"Actually, I have less clarity," said Kelly. "I guess it was actually called on Will Fuller, not C.J. Just adds more uncertainty as to the final play.

"Again, the play itself in terms of what we ask our kids to do, it was pretty clear what happened on the play. Florida State blew the coverage and they got rewarded for it. So it's unfortunate."

Despite his obvious displeasure with the outcome, Kelly did see some good things from his team.

"Well, I just loved our guys, their mentality going on the road in a hostile environment. It really did not affect them. They played physical, controlled the line of scrimmage. We made plays against a team that had won 22 in a row. You love that about your team, its psyche, the way they went into the game. So all those are huge things.

"You're still disappointed you didn't come out with a win because of all those things you had working for you. I think if we take something from this, when you get a team like this, you outplay them, you got to put them away. You can't leave it up to a decision at the end of the game. You got to make sure that you put them away, and we didn't do that."

Now the Irish must pick up the pieces and try to fight their way back into the playoff picture.

With a win over a good Stanford team already secured, the narrow loss at Florida State and several more high profile games left on the docket (Arizona State, Louisville, USC), Notre Dame could forge its way back in, although there is zero room for error the rest of the way.

As for Florida State, it has run the nation's longest win streak to 23 games and puts itself on the fast track to a spot in the top-four when all is said and done.

FSU gets a bye this weekend before a Thursday night showdown with Louisville on the road. The newest member of the ACC has the ability to knock off the 'Noles, especially at home. However, should Florida State prevail, the schedule seems rather easy the rest of the way, with Virginia, Miami-Florida, Boston College and Florida left on the docket. While instate rivalries are always tough to gauge, the Hurricanes and Gators aren't exactly feared programs this season.

The Seminoles aren't the flashy, dominant team that ran the table a year ago en route to the national championship, but rather a team that has done just enough at times to keep the wins coming. An overtime decision against Clemson with Heisman winner Jameis Winston on the bench, a shootout win over NC State just one week later and now the 60-minute brawl with the Irish are proof of that.

"This team understands how to win," Fisher said in his post-game press conference. "It has character. It has culture. And it's about developing this group into the best football team it can be."

A job made slightly easier with fortuitous calls from time to time.

No matter what side you are on, the one thing that came out of Saturday night's collision at Doak Campbell Stadium, is that these are two of the best teams in the nation.

The Irish faithful probably aren't very happy right now, but those frowns may just turn upside down in a couple of months, should they get another crack at the Seminoles.

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