The Notre Dame Fighting Irish scored with just 16 seconds before the half to take a 14-13 advantage, and Notre Dame continued to hold strong on defense as it held a 24-13 advantage by the end of the third quarter.
Arizona State opened the second half with the ball after winning the coin toss and deferring. Two quick completions gave the Sun Devils a first down, but neither Marion Grice nor Taylor Kelly could get anything going in the running game and Matt Haack was forced to punt.
The Notre Dame drive started at its own 22-yard line and that's when Tommy Rees picked up where he left off. Rees hit wide receiver T.J. Jones for a 37-yard gain on the second play of the drive for the Irish and Notre Dame was back in business yet again. The Sun Devils held tough on their side of the field, but the big passing play proved to be enough to put Notre Dame in field goal range.
Fighting Irish kicker Kyle Brindza hit a career-long 53-yard field goal to put Notre Dame up 17-13 with 10:02 left in the third quarter. The field goal was a gutsy call considering Brindza's earlier miss, but it turned out to be quite the play call as the 53-yarder matched Notre Dame's record for the longest field goal in school history.
Kelly opened the next Arizona State drive by hitting Jaelen Strong for a 15-yard gain, but the Sun Devils couldn't convert on third down and punted for the second straight drive.
Carl Bradford did his best to keep Arizona State in the game by wreaking havoc in the backfield and collecting his first tackle for loss of the game on the first place of the Irish drive. That forced Notre Dame into an uncomfortable situation and Chris Brown dropped a third and 15 pass from Rees that would have given his team a chance to convert.
When Arizona State took over, the Sun Devils had the ball in a second and inches situation after Cameron Smith caught a 9-yard pass. Mike Norvell dialed up a reverse to Deantre Lewis and the Sun Devil running back was dropped for a loss. On the next play, the Irish pass rush buried Kelly for a 10-yard sack and the Sun Devils were forced to punt for the third straight drive to open the quarter.
This time, Irish returner T.J. Jones slipped through a few Arizona State tackling attempts and charged forward for a 27-yard return. The Irish couldn't take advantage of the exceptional field position and Arizona State began its fourth drive of the quarter with another opportunity to seize the lead.
But on the second play of the drive, Kelly threw a screen pass to Rick Smith who had the ball ripped from his mitts by Irish cornerback Bennett Jackson. Notre Dame wasted little time finding the end zone as Rees lofted a perfectly placed pass for tight end Troy Niklas on the left side of the end zone. The 21-yard touchdown pass gave the Irish a 24-13 lead.
The offensive woes continued to haunt Arizona State as the Sun Devils couldn't covert another third down attempt on their next drive. The Sun Devils fell to just 2-10 on third down conversions and that's the way they would end the quarter.
The Sun Devils have 15 minutes to make up an 11-point deficit, but they look like they'll need help from a turnover or a big play because the offense can't seem to gain any sort of momentum at this point.