The break, unscheduled, came 43 minutes after kick-off and less than one-fifth of the way into what would become, by actual time elapsed, one of the longest games in the ample history of Notre Dame football.
The No. 10 Fighting Irish led 3-0 on the scoreboard, but Mother Nature had delivered a temporary knockout – to both the game and host North Carolina State’s scoreboard.
Lightning delayed this game, as well as Wake Forest’s home tilt along I-40 against Vanderbilt, and stretched as far along the Eastern Seaboard as a lengthy pause in Boston College’s home contest.
Marcus Freeman, in his 15h regular-season game as head coach and 16th overall, once again confronted the unknown.
So Freeman directed his Notre Dame support staff to serve hot dogs.
Vanquished into the visitor’s locker room for the delay that spanned 105 minutes, the Irish first embraced their planned contingencies – and then audibled to food from the concession stands.
Perhaps hot dogs should become the new norm.
Notre Dame emerged from the delay, scored on its first snap from scrimmage – Audric Estimé galloping 80 yards for six – and was never tied in its 45-24 victory.
“I only had one,” said Estimè, his hot-dog consumption a mere one-fourth of his touchdown production through three games. “I tried to keep it easy, didn’t want to get too bloated.”
Despite uncharacteristic miscues – the 10 penalties marked the most of the Freeman era – only the Irish lead ballooned after the break.
They settled in, made crucial adjustments on both sides of the ball and turned opportunistic defense into the most points scored on the Wolfpack since Hartman had guided Wake Forest to an 45-42 win in 2021.
“We have a plan, to start off with a 30-minute delay,” said Freeman, who’s now guided the Irish to nine wins in their last 10 games and 12 of 14. “We kind of said, ‘Hey, guys, settle down and let’s wait to hear back.’ Then it got pushed back and once we knew it was going to be over an hour, we said take off your pads, sit down and then the plan was to be able to talk about different adjustments.
“Coaches were able to come down, (say) ‘Let’s talk about the things we saw the first two or three drives.’ And then we were able to get with our players and say ok here are the things we’re seeing that we weren’t able to plan for. The next thing was ok a two-hour delay, what is our plan when we go out there? So we went out and warmed up as a team for five minutes.”
And the hot dogs?
“Two-hour delay, coaches might’ve gotten a little bit more hungry than players,” Freeman said. “I saw some coaches eating hot dogs.”
Mostly, though, Notre Dame – credit offensive coordinator Gerad Parker and defensive play-caller Al Golden – feasted on its opposition after the delay, despite the Pack having the comforts of their home den.
Consider: 417 of Notre Dame’s 456 yards’ offense came after the delay, as did 42 of its 45-points. A week after a 28-point frame against FCS program Tennessee State, the Irish creased this affair with a 21-point fourth quarter that saw them in victory formation the game’s final two minutes.
Defensively, Notre Dame forced a trio of picks – DJ Brown, Ben Morrison, Xavier Watts each nabbed an interception – and held State to just 84 rushing yards on 30 tries.
“I just kind of sat back and put my headphones and listened to music,” Watts, who did not have a hot dog, said of how he passed time in the delay. “Pretty hard to stay locked in playing the first quarter and then a two-hour delay or whatever it was.
“Just tried to stay locked in.”
Mission accomplished, road exam aced.
“This game kind of gave us a test,” said Estime, now with 345 rushing yards this season. “We faced a lot of adversity and you just have to respond.
“This team showed that we’re able to respond well in times of pressure, and that’s something we needed for down the line.”
This team showed that sometimes (hot) dogging it is exactly what is needed.