ORLANDO – For a program with a lot of tradition, winning on New Year’s Day has been a bit of a problem.
Not since the 1994 Cotton Bowl when they defeated Texas A & M had Notre Dame come up with a win in a bowl game on the first day of the New Year. In fact that win in Dallas was the last major bowl victory the Irish have had, losing their last eight games that were played during the first week of January.
Finally that drought ended on Monday afternoon in Orlando, and it was thanks to a Chicago-area product.
Tinley Park native Miles Boykin gave the Irish the lead on a memorable 55-yard touchdown catch in the final two minutes of the Citrus Bowl against No. 17 LSU. On 1st-and-10, quarterback Ian Book threw down field for the junior receiver, who reached over his shoulder with his right hand and made the catch. After that, Boykin was able to use a few moves to get past a pair of defenders and go in for the touchdown.
It was the winning score for the Irish, who beat the Tigers 21-17 at Camping World Stadium.
“It’s an extremely humbling moment for me, to make a play to help my team win,” said Boykin, who was a standout at Providence Catholic High School before joining the Irish. “We talk about, as a receiver, we’re playmakers, and winning the 50-50 ball every day. During that moment, I had to make the play, otherwise I don’t know how the outcome is going to be.
“Ian gave me a great ball, the coaches gave a great play, and I was just able to make a play on it.”
It completed arguably one of Boykin’s best days with the Irish since he first took the field in 2016, leading the Irish in receptions (3) and yards (102) on a rainy day in Orlando. He finishes the year with 12 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns, along with one of the best plays of this year’s college bowl season.