Notre Dame students let out a collective sigh of relief as the final horn sounded in Saturday's 24-21 victory at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium.
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen and the Irish sealed the win in the final seconds, sending the in-state rival Boilermakers home unhappy.
Without the team's leading rusher Armando Allen and leading receiver Michael Floyd in the line-up, and with Clausen battling injury as well, the Irish needed to step it up, senior Jeff Skorup said.
"Jimmy was obviously hurting, but he came through when called upon," Skorup said. "And even though [backup quarterback Dayne] Crist wasn't asked to do much, he played mistake-free football and did his job."
Senior Amy Holt was impressed by Notre Dame's quarterback tandem.
"I'm proud of Jimmy's leadership, and Dayne gave good effort when we needed him."
Some students say they were most impressed with Clausen's coolheaded leadership with the game on the line.
"Despite his injury, Jimmy came through in the end, and that's what a good quarterback has to do," Skorup said.
Though limited by injury offensively, the Irish had an answer for Floyd and Allen's absences. Junior receiver took snaps out the wildcat formation and lined up in the backfield, finishing with over 100 yards and one touchdown from scrimmage.
"Having Golden and Robert Hughes in the backfield seemed to be an effective way to mix things up, especially in the first half," freshman Rob Kirk said.
Students said Crist was an admirable substitute for Clausen, leading the Irish on two touchdown drives with Tate.
"He took care of the football and did his job well," Skorup said.
When the Irish offense took over possession with 3:41 remaining in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jimmy Clausen returned to the game and orchestrated the game-winning drive. On fourth down, Clausen threw a two-yard strike, hooking up with tight end Kyle Rudolph for the touchdown.
"Jimmy was in command. He showed great leadership," Skorup said.
"I couldn't believe it. Clausen for Heisman," Kirk added.