Saturday, November 4, 2017

Record performance propels No. 3 Notre Dame over Wake Forest

Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh/AP

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— With 720 yards of offense, No. 3 Notre Dame (8-1) tied their single-game school record for total yards of offense in a dominating performance over Wake Forest (5-4, 2-3 ACC).  With the 48-37 victory, the Irish will remain in the College Football Playoff picture. 

“You know, obviously we're pleased with the win. Winning is hard, especially in November,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said.  “And anytime that you find a way to win football games when teams are executing at a high level which Wake Forest executed their offense extremely well today, you're very pleased.”

Notre Dame’s main offensive threats both went down with injuries in the first half of action.  Heisman-hopeful Josh Adams left with what appeared to be a head injury, while quarterback Brandon Wimbush exited with a hand injury.  Wimbush returned to action at the beginning of the second half of play with his left hand wrapped. 

“Brandon had a pretty large contusion to his left hand. We got an x-ray, it was negative. Then it was just a matter of controlling the swelling. He was able to feel like he could get back in there.”

“[Josh Adams]was not ruled out of the game other than him not just feeling right,” Kelly said.  “So we were really conservative with him in terms of not putting him in the game, but he wasn't in our concussion protocol. We didn't have to move him through with a head injury per se, so, you know, hopefully he's feeling better tomorrow with some rest.”

The Irish eclipsed the 300 yard rushing mark for the fifth straight game and the seventh time this season.  Despite Josh Adams picking up 22 yards on five attemps, the Irish running game exploded – again.  Wimbush finished the contest with 110 yards of rushing and 2 touchdowns, including a 50 yard touchdown run.  Five different players (Wimbush, Deon McIntosh, Ian Book, KJ Stepherson, Dexter Williams) rushed for a long of at least 32 yards throughout the contest. 

Chase Claypool enjoyed a career day against Wake Forest recording 9 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown.  Claypool’s previous high was 4 receptions for 56 yards against Michigan State earlier this season.  The 180 yards of receiving was the most by any Irish receiver this season.

“What I was pleased with Chase was after the drop he had when he was wide open down the sideline, he came back with nice catches after that,” Kelly said.  “So he was able to refocus, which is something we talk a lot about, let that play go and refocus and I was proud of him, and that's his maturation and development as a receiver.”

Wimbush and Book combined to throw for 340 yards, two touchdowns, and did not throw an interception.  Ian Book finished a perfect 8-of-8 on pass attempts.

Julian Love added another stellar performance on defense for Notre Dame against Wake Forest.  Love recorded his third interception of the season, while picking up seven total tacks and three pass breakups. 

“So his ability to change direction, exert force in the ground, break on balls, then play the double move, so he's physically a gifted player. Then he's smart,” Kelly said. “Put those two things together that gives you a pretty good chance to be successful. He takes care of his body, does all the little things the right way, as good players do.”

The Irish allowed 14 unanswered points to the Demon Deacons in the fourth quarter to allow the score to tighten.  Notre Dame held a 48-23 lead with less than nine minutes remaining in the game. 

Notre Dame will head to No. 10 Miami (FL) next weekend in another premier matchup. Miami moved to 8-0 after a 28-10 over Virginia Tech.