Notre Dame vs. Florida State score, takeaways: No. 9 Irish give up lead but outlast Seminoles in OT

No. 9 Notre Dame survived a comeback usually seen in movies about Notre Dame football to beat Florida State 41-38 in overtime on Sunday night at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Fighting Irish blew a 38-20 third-quarter lead late in Tallahassee, Florida, thanks partly to the return of Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton.

Milton, the former UCF QB, was back on the field for the first time in three years after suffering a catastrophic leg injury with the Knights that many thought he'd never be able to return from.

Unfortunately, Milton's feel-good story wasn't enough to put the Seminoles over the top.

Florida State got the ball first in overtime but was unable to move it, missing a 40-yard field goal attempt. Notre Dame did not miss its chance, finishing the game and avoiding the loss with a 41-yard field goal of its own.

Wisconsin transfer QB Jack Coan threw for a career-high 366 yards and four touchdowns for the Fighting Irish, which had three players finish the game with at least 80 yards receiving. 

Here are four takeaways from what might have been the best game of the opening weekend of college football.

1. Milton won the night

It's hard to put into words the feeling of seeing Milton back on the field. Jordan Travis started the game for Florida State, and while he made some plays and a few nice throws to keep Florida State in it, he also threw three costly interceptions. Milton's entrance into the game provided a spark that nearly carried the Seminoles to a comeback win.

It's one thing to see Milton back on the field in a game like this at all, considering the injury he suffered, but to have him play well was a cherry on top. he completed 5 of 7 passes for 48 yards and was able to help out in the run game as well -- even if you felt a need to cover your eyes every time he began to scramble because you didn't want to see him get hurt. ABC's cameras kept panning to Milton's parents in the stands, and we all felt like his mom, who was in tears and could barely watch.

I have no idea how the rest of the season will go for Milton, but even if he never steps foot on the field again, the fact he made it back at all is one of those stories that makes all sports great. Not just college football.

2. Coan had an excellent comeback, too

It may get buried in the Milton story, but Coan lost his starting job to Graham Mertz at Wisconsin last season due to injury. Sunday night was Coan's first chance to remind everybody that, while he's not a Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterback, he's still capable of leading a strong offense. He also showed that sometimes we shouldn't judge Wisconsin QBs by the offense they play in.

Coan was dynamic, and the Irish offense ran a lot of vertical routes that he was able to hit. That's a facet of the Notre Dame offense that was non-existent in recent seasons with Ian Book playing. Say what you want about Book -- and everybody involved with the Notre Dame program raves about him -- he was limited as a QB. He did not have a big arm and was more of a scrambler than a pocket-passer.

Coan doesn't have a cannon, but he does have an arm strong enough to utilize outside threats such as Kevin Austin (four catches, 91 yards, touchdown) and Braden Lenzy (two receptions, 39 yards). He's also able to utilize Michael Mayer (nine catches, 120 yards, touchdown) both over the middle of the field and down the seams.

Ironically, the rushing attack that carried the Irish offense last season was virtually non-existent as they ran for only 65 yards on 35 carries. On the other side, the Noles had a tremendous day on the ground with their top two running backs totaling 220 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.

It was Coan's arm that led the way. If Notre Dame ran the ball like this against Florida State with Book at QB, it doesn't win this game.

3. Kyle Hamilton is spectacular

Hamilton will surely be a top 10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he showed why Saturday night with two interceptions. While both were impressive, it was his second pick that made your eyes pop out of your head in awe. Look at how Hamilton starts the play at the far hash and makes his way across the field to the opposite sideline to intercept the throw. There are not many humans on this planet who are capable of making that play, and I'm sure Notre Dame is thrilled to have one who can.

4. Florida State has plenty to feel good about

I couldn't help but think that last season's Florida State team -- and most Florida State teams of late -- would have quit as soon as they fell behind 38-20 late in the third quarter. There wouldn't have been any belief in the players or even the coaches on the sideline that they'd be capable of coming back from that large deficit against a top-10 team.

But this FSU team already feels different. Coach Mike Norvell still has a long way to go in Tallahassee, but there are plenty of signs this is heading in the right direction. While Milton was the star, he wasn't the only transfer who shined tonight. Georgia transfer Jermaine Johnson had a monster night, finishing with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss. It's been a while since the Noles have had a disruptive force like him on their defensive line, and he's a significant reason why the Irish averaged only 2.6 yards per carry when adjusting for sack yardage.

There's fight in this Florida State team, and there's a mental toughness that I haven't seen in years. If I'm a Florida State fan tonight, I'm sad the Seminoles lost the game, but I am buzzing with excitement about what the rest of this season could look like.

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FSU +7, o53.5
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FSU 7, O/U 53.5

Season Leaders

passing
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J. Coan 1397 YD, 11 TDS, 4 INTS
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J. Coan 1397 YD, 11 TDS, 4 INTS
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J. Travis 636 YD, 9 TDS, 5 INTS
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J. Travis 636 YD, 9 TDS, 5 INTS
rushing
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K. Williams 121 ATT, 508 YD, 6 TDS
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K. Williams 121 ATT, 508 YD, 6 TDS
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J. Corbin 86 ATT, 683 YD, 5 TDS
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J. Corbin 86 ATT, 683 YD, 5 TDS
receiving
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M. Mayer 37 REC, 414 YD, 3 TDS
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M. Mayer 37 REC, 414 YD, 3 TDS
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O. Wilson 12 REC, 206 YD, 3 TDS
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O. Wilson 12 REC, 206 YD, 3 TDS
Live updates
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Final 

September 6, 2021, 3:33 AM
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The kick is good. Notre Dame wins 41-38.

September 6, 2021, 3:33 AM
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The Irish go nowhere and will now be attempting a 40-yard field goal to win the game.

September 6, 2021, 3:31 AM
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The fumble is overturned and called an incomplete pass. That saves the Seminoles plenty of yardage, turning a 50-yard FG attempt into a 37-yard FG attempt. But it doesn't work out as Ryan Fitzgerald's kick is wide left. No points. The Irish only need a FG to win.

September 6, 2021, 3:29 AM
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And ND takes advantage immediately. They bring pressure from the left side -- where Gibbons plays -- and it's a nine-yard loss setting up a 50-yard FG attempt. But now the Noles are challenging the fumble and saying it was an incomplete pass. Interesting review coming.

September 6, 2021, 3:25 AM
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Dillan Gibbons, who transferred from Notre Dame to Florida State, is down and being looked at by trainers. Not good news for the Florida State offensive line.

September 6, 2021, 3:23 AM
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We're going to overtime. Notre Dame had a chance to win it in regulation, but Michael Mayer dropped a pass that would've put the Irish in field goal range. Instead Jack Coan launches a Hail Mary attempt that is well short of the end zone and picked off. Free football is coming our way, and I have no complaints. Game of the weekend so far.

September 6, 2021, 3:17 AM
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Notre Dame is at midfield with 11 seconds left and FSU takes its first timeout. HOW WE FEELING?

September 6, 2021, 3:13 AM
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We've got a tie ballgame. FSU averts disaster as a snap goes flying over Milton's head on 3rd down, but he's able to pick it up and throw it away for an incompletion. It allows Ryan Fitzgerald a chance to drill a career long 43-yard field goal, and he does. 38-38. 40 seconds to play.

September 6, 2021, 3:10 AM
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Nice drive here but it feels like FSU is playing for the FG.

September 6, 2021, 3:08 AM
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It'll be interesting to see how FSU approaches this drive. Do they keep it somewhat conservative in hopes of burning off as much clock as possible while trying to score? Or do they say screw it, all gas, no brakes?

September 6, 2021, 3:04 AM
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@FSUFootball via Twitter
September 6, 2021, 3:03 AM
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Doak Campbell Stadium is ROCKING after the Noles defense forces a three-and-out. Coan is sacked on third down and the Irish have to punt. Florida State has the ball back at the FSU 29. There's 4:15 to play, it's a three-point game, and McKenzie Milton is still in at QB.

It feels like a modern day Rudy, except Notre Dame might be on the wrong side of history this time.

September 6, 2021, 3:01 AM
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September 6, 2021, 2:59 AM
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Milton provided the spark, and the Seminoles are within a field goal. Treshaun Ward finishes off a 12-play, 88-yard drive with a two yard run, and it's suddenly 38-35 with 5:36 left to play in regulation. There's an air of belief in the building that wasn't there 30 minutes ago. I can't help but believe if last year's Florida State team falls behind 38-20, the game is over. Norvell's program is improving no matter what the final result is tonight.

September 6, 2021, 2:54 AM
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Note to Notre Dame: You probably don't have to treat McKenzie Milton the same way you do Jordan Travis on those mesh points.

September 6, 2021, 2:51 AM
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McKenzie Milton is in at QB for the Seminoles.

September 6, 2021, 2:48 AM
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When they call running into the kicker and you think it probably should've been a roughing the kicker.

September 6, 2021, 2:43 AM
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Florida State's defense comes through and forces a Notre Dame punt. The Seminoles are getting the ball back at the FSU 12 down 10 points and with 10:19 to play. Far crazier things have happened.

September 6, 2021, 2:40 AM
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