Oct. 31, 2009
SAN ANTONIO -- Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw two touchdowns, including a desperation heave that Golden Tate spectacularly pulled down to end the first half, and Notre Dame clobbered Washington State 40-14 on Saturday night.
The previous six games for Notre Dame (6-2) were nerve-wrackers decided in the final minutes. This time, the Irish had Washington State (1-7) beaten by halftime.
"It was a relief," Clausen said. "Close games all the time it kind of gets old."
Robert Hughes ran for 131 yards on 24 carries and had a touchdown, delighting a Texas crowd that was overwhelmingly filled with Fighting Irish fans. The Alamodome blowout debuted Notre Dame's plan to play one offsite home game a year.
Clausen, keeping his name in the Heisman Trophy conversation, was 22 of 27 for 268 yards. The jewel was his 50-yard bomb on the final play before halftime to Tate, who somehow made the grab between three defenders.
Officials reviewed the catch. Tate sprung for the ball and tumbled to the ground in a tangled mass, but after the replay booth confirmed the junior had possession, the stadium erupted.
San Antonio might as well have been South Bend, Ind.
"It was probably one of the most phenomenal catches I've seen anyone make, ever," Notre Dame coach Charile Weis said.
Hughes had a career game starting in place of Armando Allen Jr., who has been bothered by a right ankle he sprained a month ago. Standing on the sideline without pads, Allen watched Notre Dame get their most convincing win since routing Nevada 35-0 in the season opener.
Tate's Hail Mary haul was his second sensational score. He earlier went on a 16-yard touchdown run that began with him running smack into two linebackers before spinning around, leaving the would-be tacklers colliding and grasping for air as Tate dashed to the end zone.
Tate finished with 141 total yards. He called his biggest grab luck.
"Just timed the jump," he said.
After another crushing loss, Washington State coach Paul Wulff took away the almost bowl-like atmosphere as at least one positive.
"I think there is a lot for us at Washington State to gain from this," Wulff said.