Notre Dame's Everett Golson continued his climb up the school's single-season records chart Saturday, but he and the Irish were stunned 43-40 in overtime by Northwestern.
The loss almost certainly knocks the Irish (7-3) out of the hunt for a playoff-affiliated bowl, while Northwestern (4-6) boosted its bowl hopes by snapping a four-game losing streak; the Wildcats finish the regular season with winnable games against Purdue and Illinois.
Golson threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns, and he also rushed for 78 yards and a score. Saturday's game was his sixth this season with at least three touchdown passes and the fourth time this season he has accounted for at least four touchdowns. Golson also threw an interception, his 12th of the season.
He now has 27 touchdown passes, one away from tying Jimmy Clausen for third-most in a season in school history (Clausen threw 28 in 2009). In addition, Golson has thrown for 3,044 yards and seems a lock to finish at least third on the school's single-season list; currently, Brady Quinn is in third with 3,426 yards in '06.
Golson also has 3,383 yards of total offense, putting him in an excellent spot to finish second in that category; Clausen had 3,627 in '09 to earn the No. 2 ranking.
But as well as Golson played Saturday, the Irish defense was shredded by what had been a mediocre Northwestern offense. The Wildcats rolled up 547 yards. They came in averaging just 322.7 yards, and their previous season high was 394 in a loss to Northern Illinois.
A TD pass from Golson to Will Fuller gave the Irish a 40-29 lead with 10:34 left in the game, but Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly chose to go for two and the Irish failed to convert. Northwestern scored a TD and a two-point conversion with 4:10 left to cut the lead to three, then Jack Mitchell kicked a 45-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. Notre Dame missed a field goal on its OT possession, and Mitchell then drilled a 41-yarder to win it.
Fuller had nine catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns; he has 13 TD receptions this season, two shy of the single-season school record held jointly by Rhema McKnight (2006), Jeff Samardzija ('05) and Golden Tate ('09).
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.