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Fans enjoy bowl game despite loss to Florida State

Dan Brombach | Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A day filled with excitement and warm weather was capped with stunning disappointment for Notre Dame fans as the Irish fell to Florida State, 18-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla. on Dec. 29.

Despite a sizeable presence of Notre Dame fans, the proximity of the game to the Florida State campus in Tallahassee, Fla. gave the Seminoles an advantage on the field, freshman Taylor Gillig, who attended the game, said.

“It still felt like a Florida State home game at times,” Gillig said. “Our team definitely managed to take the FSU fans out of it early on, but as the momentum shifted in the second half they made it pretty obvious that we were outnumbered.”

After the Irish took a 14-0 lead early in the third quarter, Notre Dame fans could do nothing, but watch as Florida State scored 18 unanswered points to win, turning the mood in the stands from one of enthusiasm to frustration.

Gillig related the emotions in the stands to Michigan loss earlier in the season.

“In the second half, it started to look like the Michigan game all over again,” he said. “It felt like we just didn’t have the drive to finish the game.”

Justin Cullen, a senior manager for the football team, said watching from the sidelines was an emotional rollercoaster.

“It was really exciting to be down there when the team made a big play like Zeke (Motta’s) fumble return for a touchdown, but things definitely got intense when things started not going so well,” he said.

Despite the loss, the warm weather was a welcome relief for many Notre Dame fans who took advantage of the Florida sun to tailgate and enjoy the other bowl game festivities.

“It was definitely nice to get a week of 70 degree weather when it was snowing back in South Bend,” Cullen said.

Following the game, many fans were pleased with the civility of the Florida State fans.

“For the most part, people didn’t say anything to us about being from Notre Dame,” junior Caitlyn Koscielski said.

“After the Michigan game, the atmosphere was way more tense. People were screaming things at us. It was scary.”

Despite a Notre Dame loss, the bowl game was still an overall positive experience for many of those who attended.

“Even though the end of the game didn’t go as we had hoped it didn’t ruin things for us,” junior Ellen Carroll said. “We still had a lot of fun.”

Cullen also acknowledged disappointment at the loss but said he had fun attending the game.

“The team put up a good fight, and it would have been nice to win but it was still just fun to be a part of it all,” Cullen said.

Despite the less than perfect performance by the Irish, the bowl did manage to motivate fans to a positive outlook for next season.

“The game definitely exposed our weaknesses, but it also showed how far along our defense has come,” Gillig said. “That gives me hope for the future.”