Josh Adams

Wimbush scores three TD’s as No. 8 Notre Dame holds off Navy

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A week after getting embarrassed on the big stage by Miami, No. 8 Notre Dame (9-2) responded by holding off an upset bid from rival Navy (6-4). Notre Dame had to gut this one out, as we have come to expect from these two teams over the years. An incomplete pass on fourth down by Navy turned the ball over to the Irish in the final minutes and Notre Dame escaped with the win.

The play was a running back pass, and Navy appeared to have the play they were hoping for. But the pass intended for Tyler Carmona from Darryl Bonner was probably a split second late and just off the mark as it fell to the ground with the game on the line.

Navy took a 17-10 lead on the Irish in the third quarter after working a nearly eight-minute drive while running 15 plays to travel 72 yards. The drive ended with a touchdown pass from Zach Abey to Craig Scott from 12 yards out on third-and-goal. The lead did not last for very long, however, as Notre Dame answered with a much quicker offensive series. Brandon Wimbush completed a 30-yard touchdown to Kevin Stepherson to tie the game just five plays later.

The Wimbush-to-Stepherson struck again for the go-ahead touchdown on their next offensive series, after Navy missed a field goal.

Wimbush ended his day with 164 passing yards and two touchdowns with 41 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Running back Josh Adams moved into fifth place in the school record book for the most all-time rushing yards as he rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries. Adams still appears to be on the Heisman Trophy’s radar. Notre Dame’s ability to make big plays helped to overcome a draining day for the Navy offense. Navy held the football for 42:42 in the game, leaving Notre Dame the football for fewer than 18 minutes. Navy quarterback Zach Abey led Navy with 87 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown (Anthony Gargiulo also had 87 rushing yards, but no touchdowns) as the Irish gave up 277 rushing yards.

Notre Dame will wrap up the regular season on the road next week against Stanford. After that, the Irish will wait to hear their bowl fate. Notre Dame is still in firm position to be selected for a New Years Six bowl game, although a shot at playing in the playoff appears to still be an incredibly long shot with little time to spare.

Navy will also be on the road next week for one more conference game. The Midshipmen take on Houston on Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving. Navy will not play for the conference championship game, but they will play one more game before the bowl season with the annual Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia on Dec. 9.

No. 8 Notre Dame and Navy knotted at 10-10 tie at halftime

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The key for Navy to score a win on the road against Notre Dame is simple. Work the clock as much as possible and get points at all costs, and capitalize on any mistakes by the Irish. So far, so good? Almost.

Navy is tied with Notre Dame in Notre Dame Stadium at halftime, 10-10. Navy took advantage of a turnover by the Irish special teams unit, but the defense could not hold off a few big plays in the final minute that led to a Brandon Wimbush rushing touchdown to draw the game even at 10-10 just before halftime.

Chris Finke fumbled a punt to give Navy the football at the 39-yard line on the Notre Dame side of the field. Navy then marched 39 yards over 11 plays to take a 10-3 lead with a Zach Abey touchdown push.

Navy has held the football for just over 20 minutes in the first half, which means everything is going according to plan. It will be important for Navy’s defense to avoid giving up some big plays against the Irish. Big plays allowed Notre Dame to move down the field into position to the game just before halftime.

Notre Dame running back Josh Adams moved up the school record book by becoming the fifth-leading rusher in school history in the first half.

Notre Dame still has plenty to be playing for a week after an embarrassing loss at Miami. If Notre Dame has an advantage, it is the depth and strength the Irish should be able to take advantage of in the second half. But if Navy can keep working the clock, utilizing that advantage may not be effective.

15 semifinalists unveiled for prestigious Walter Camp Player of the Year Award

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One of the most prestigious awards in college football has whittled down the list of players who will be able to claim the famed hardware this season.

Wednesday, the Walter Camp Foundation announced its 15 “Players to Watch,” essentially semifinalists, for its prestigious Player of the Year Award. The Camp Award is voted on by the 130 FBS head coaches/sports information directors and is the fourth-oldest award in the sport.

“It’s been another exciting college football season with many teams and players still in the hunt for national recognition,” Foundation president Michael Madera said in a statement. “We’ve identified some outstanding players and we know the final weeks of the regular season should be even more thrilling.”

Players on both sides of the ball are eligible, but just four defensive players made the cut — North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami defensive back Jaquan Johnson and Washington defensive end Hercules Mala’afa. Six of the 15 semifinalists are quarterbacks, the other five are running backs.

Only two players from a Group of Five program, Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton and San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, are included.

Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, last year’s Camp winner, is a semifinalist once again.

Below is the complete “Players to Watch” list:

Josh Adams, RB, Junior, Notre Dame
Saquon Barkley, RB, Junior, Penn State
Bradley Chubb, DE, Senior, North Carolina State
Sam Darnold, QB, Sophomore, USC
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Junior, Alabama
Baker Mayfield, QB, Senior, Oklahoma
Lamar Jackson, QB, Junior, Louisville
Jaquan Johnson, DB, Junior, Miami
Bryce Love, RB, Junior, Stanford
Hercules Mala’afa, DE, Junior, Washington State
McKenzie Milton, QB, Sophomore, UCF
Rashaad Penny, RB, Senior, San Diego State
Mason Rudolph, QB, Senior, Oklahoma State
Khalil Tate, QB, Sophomore, Arizona
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Freshman, Wisconsin

Biscayne Beatdown: No. 7 Miami destroys No. 3 Notre Dame to state playoff case

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Heading into Saturday’s showdown with No. 3 Notre Dame, there were still plenty of questions about whether No. 7 Miami was a bona fide College Football Playoff contender. By the time the night was over, it’s safe to say there were no more doubts.

The Hurricanes brought back plenty of memories of those title contenders from yesteryear — and created several more over four quarters — after a nostalgia-filled rout of the Irish at Hard Rock Stadium, delivering a 41-8 Biscayne Beatdown that will reverberate well beyond South Florida and could allow the team to move into the top two of the polls by next week.

As much as the night was about the offense looking sharp, it was the swarming Miami defense that ruled supreme with their best effort of the year coming in the biggest game of the season. The team racked up five sacks and nine tackles for loss, combining with four ‘turnover chain’ appearances to utterly shutdown the previously prolific Notre Dame attack. That helped lead to 24 points the other way, seven of which came off Trajan Bandy’s first career interception that he returned 65 yards for an eardrum-shattering pick-six.

That was off the arm of backup quarterback Ian Book, who entered briefly  in the second quarter to replace an ineffective Brandon Wimbush (119 yards passing, one touchdown, two INTs). Star tailback Josh Adams spent most of the second half on the exercise bike after appearing to suffer an undisclosed injury and recorded only 40 yards on the ground as the Irish put up points with only seconds left in the third quarter to avoid a shutout.

Though things slowed down after halftime, it was another efficient effort on the other side for head coach Mark Richt’s offense to build upon what they’ve been doing the past few weeks. Quarterback Malik Rosier was solid throwing the football even if the stats weren’t eye-popping (137 yards, 1 TD) and also managed a rushing score that broke things open early on. He teamed up with Travis Homer (146 yards) and DeeJay Dallas (53 yards, two scores) to form quite the deadly combo in the backfield.

The end result of all that carnage in South Florida? Given No. 1 Georgia’s loss to No. 10 Auburn earlier in the day, it’s possible that Richt’s current team could pass his old one in the standings on both Sunday (AP/Coaches Polls) and Tuesday (selection committee). They’ve already clinched their first ever ACC Coastal Division title and will play Clemson for the conference title in what sure seems like a quarterfinal game up in Charlotte in a few weeks.

As for Brian Kelly’s side, their second loss of the year should end any hopes of reaching the playoff after that kind of lopsided result. The Irish still figure to be in a New Year’s Six bowl if they win out and could remain in the top 10 but it’s pretty clear that any hopes of aiming higher need to be reset after that kind of game against a potential playoff team in Miami.

All about ‘The U’ as No. 7 Miami dominates first half against No. 3 Notre Dame

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The mega-showdown between No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 7 Miami lived up to the early billing… for just one side of the matchup of College Football Playoff contenders. The Hurricanes, behind their raucous crowd (you read that right) were electric from the opening kickoff and used several big plays on both sides of the ball to jump out to a 27-0 lead over the visiting Irish in a nostalgia-filled showdown between rivals.

Mark Richt’s offense picked up where they left off last week against Virginia Tech, looking pretty sharp in picking up numerous chunk plays throughout the half. Quarterback Malik Rosier completed 11 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown through the air, finding his speedy wideout Braxton Berrios from seven yards out in a terrific catch along the sideline for the first points of the night.

The ‘Canes defense was the real standouts early though, forcing a trio of  ‘turnover chain’ appearances. The first — a Brandon Wimbush overthrow off a receiver’s hands that was picked off — led to a Rosier rushing score. The second, also an interception off a bad throw, later turned into three points off a chip shot field goal but the team saved the best for last as Trajan Bandy ran it back 65 yards for a pick-six.

The Irish’s normally productive offense looked out of rhythm on nearly every drive down in South Florida. Wimbush completed only two passes (with two more going to the other team) and was replaced behind center late in the second quarter by backup Ian Book. The team’s highly touted offensive line didn’t seem to block anybody and Heisman contender Josh Adams managed only 33 yards on the ground.

There’s still a long ways to go in this one but after only a half of play down in Miami, it sure seems like ‘The U’ is back for real and are making a strong play to be the No. 1 team in the country come Sunday morning.