Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush did plenty of damage with his legs in a 49-20 victory over Boston College. Wimbush made up for a sub-par passing day by rushing for 207 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including a 65-yard run. Not to be outdone, Irish running back Josh Adams rushed for a game-high 229 yards in the road win.
If there was a key point in the second half, it may have come in the third quarter when Boston College failed to pick up a first down on a fourth-and-short at the Irish 30-yard line. The Eagles trailed 14-13 at the time and handed the ball to Jon Hilliman. In most situations, this would be a good decision for the Eagles, but it failed them this time. Notre Dame snuffed out the play and prevented Hilliman from picking up the first down. Notre Dame then orchestrated a nine-play drive to tack on a touchdown to push the lead to 21-13. Brandon Wimbush came through with the key play of the drive with his feet with a 46-yard run down the right side of the field on a 3rd and 10 from the Irish 45-yard line. Tony Jones Jr. later finished the drive with a one-yard score.
Boston College followed that sequence up by ending a drive with an interception, with Shaun Crawford picking off a pass. at the Notre Dame 27-yard line. Adams started the Irish drive with a 36-yard run, and Wimbush followed with a 33-yard pass to Durham Smythe to put the Irish inside the 10-yard line. Wimbush finished the drive by beating the BC defense to the right corner of the field to score a touchdown.
From there, Notre Dame continued to use the ground game to their advantage, scoring seven rushing touchdowns in the game.
Wimbush’s four rushing touchdowns and rushing yardage are school records for a Notre Dame quarterback.
Notre Dame will be on the road once again next week to take on Michigan State. The Spartans had a bye week this week but have gotten off to a bit of a confidence-boosting start to the season with back-to-back double-digit victories against Western Michigan and Bowling Green. Michigan State won last year’s meeting, 36-28, to snap a three-game losing streak against the Irish from 2011 through 2013.
It won’t get any easier for Boston College next week. The Eagles head to Death Valley to face defending national champion Clemson, who will either be coming off a big road win at Louisville or looking to get back on track after a loss. Either way, neither scenario is a good one for the Eagles.
Two first-half touchdown runs by Brandon Wimbush to finish off drives have given Notre Dame a 14-10 lead on Boston College at halftime. Both of the Wimbush touchdowns have finished off scoring drives fueled by Notre Dame running back Josh Adams, who already is up to 167 rushing yards so far this afternoon.
After the teams exchanged punts on the first two series of the game, Boston College was first to put some points on the scoreboard with a 38-yard field goal from Colton Lichtenberg. Notre Dame wasted little time responding with a quick, four-play touchdown drive. Wimbush punched one home from two yards out on a drive highlighted one play earlier with an Adams run of 65 yards. In the first half, Adams became the 17th Irish running back to go over 2,000 career yards.
Boston College took the lead in the second quarter with Anthony Brown completing a 22-yard pass to Charlie Callinan for six points. The touchdown drive took nine plays to cover 85 yards in just over three minutes. Jon Hilliman started the drive with a 29-yard run from the BC 25-yard line.
Wimbush finished off a second touchdown drive once again led by Adams to give the Irish the 14-10 lead before halftime. Wimbush was picked off on an overthrown pass in the last minute of the half, but Boston College was unable to take advantage and seemed to give up on the half with timeouts to spare. I’m not sure anyone is capable of explaining this coaching decision.
A summer of attempting to change the narrative and a week’s worth of Brian Kelly trying to tell media outlets this year is going to be different has paid off for at least one week. Notre Dame (1-0) opened the season at home with a 49-16 win against Temple (0-1), and has a few reasons to feel optimistic about this season after one game.
For starters, there is quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush got the Irish off on the right foot Saturday afternoon with a pair of touchdown passes and 106 rushing yards and a score. Brian Kelly has liked having dual threats run the offense, and Wimbush did just that against a Temple defense that was ripe for the picking.
Then there is running back Josh Adams, who tore up the Temple defense for 161 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Adams was a workhorse for the Irish running the football with an average of 8.5 yards per carry. As a team, Notre Dame piled up 353 rushing yards, which was more than the total yardage picked up by Temple on the afternoon.
Notre Dame may have room to improve on the defense, but the Irish did a sound job slowing down the running game for the Owls. It was expected there would be a transition period for Temple with a new head coach in Geoff Collins and a decent amount of roster turnover, an unproven quarterback situyation made running the football a key for Temple. The Irish held the Owls to fewer than 100 yards on the ground, with a trio of sacks helping out in the box score in that department. That is encouraging, but the next game poses a much more serious threat on the ground with Georgia coming in with Nick Chubb. Time will tell if this will hold up.
It wasn’t all bad for Temple, as Logan Marchi battled and passed for 245 yards and two touchdowns in a tough spot. Ryquell Armstead ran 19 times for 67 yards and the Owls spread the ball around in the passing game. It just was not nearly enough to battle Notre Dame in this setting at this time.
Notre Dame will stay home next week to host No. 15 Georgia. The game will be a primetime affair from Notre Dame Stadium with the Irish and Bulldogs squaring off at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC (check your local listings). Georgia opened the season against Appalachian State in a game that was ongoing at the time Notre Dame wrapped up the win. Temple will look to rebound next week with a home game against a local FCS threat from the Main Line, Villanova. Villanova is ranked in the FCS top 25 polls and is coming off a top 25 victory over Lehigh.
If this is going to be a different Notre Dame team this season, then new starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush is going to playing a key role. So far, so good as Notre Dame leads Temple 28-10 at the half in the season opener.
Wimbush has accounted for three touchdowns in the first half of the season opener in South Bend against defending American Athletic Conference champion Temple. Wimbush, making his first career start for Notre Dame, has thrown two touchdown passes and rushed for one more, Notre Dame opened up a 28-3 half on the strength of a 21-point first quarter, but the Owls have started to scratch back a little bit.
Logan Marchi completed a touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood inside the red zone to cut into the lead, but that has been all the Owls have been able to muster aside from a field goal. Temple is playing the game without their top wide receiver, Ventell Bryant, who did not travel with the team due to a reported hamstring injury.
Temple has a lot of ground to make up against a more talented Irish team in the second half, and first-year head coach Geoff Collins will have his work cut out for him to turn this game back in his favor.
The Notre Dame quarterback situation just got a whole lot more wide open for the spring, potentially. DeShone Kizer will pass on his final year of eligibility in South Bend and declare for the NFL Draft. Kizer shared the news on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.
“I have an opportunity to continue my football career in the NFL. My family and I have taken the last couple weeks to collect all the necessary information to make a decision that will impact our future,” Kizer said. “After discussing with my family and coaches, and weighing the pros and cons of remaining at Notre Dame, I believe it’s time to change my path.”
Kizer stepped in to lead the Irish offense early in the 2015 season and played very well as a sophomore. Kizer completed 62.9 percent of his pass attempts for 2,880 yards and 21 touchdowns to 1 interceptions in his first run as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. His ability to take off and run gave opposing defenses something else to worry about as well. The 2016 season, as for the entire Notre Dame program, did not go exactly according to plan, but Kizer actually improved his touchdown to interception ratio (26 touchdowns, nine interceptions) in a losing season in South Bend. Kizer also rushed for 472 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Notre Dame was already set to lose one quarterback with the unconditional release from scholarship given to Malik Zaire. Now, with Kizer heading to the NFL, Notre Dame’s most likely starting quarterback in 2017 may be Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush was a four-star dual-threat quarterback out of high school in the Class of 2015. Having been unable to wiggle his way into the starting competition that was stacked with Kizer and Zaire, the door is now wide open for Wimbush to ascend to the top of the depth chart. Nothing will be guaranteed, however, and he will still have to prove the wait was worth it starting in the spring.