Lane Stadium was rocking and the home team was dreaming of pulling off another late night upset in Blacksburg. No. 6 Notre Dame shook off a bit of rust and responded by saying thanks, but no thanks.
The Irish used a big third quarter featuring a few key plays on both sides of the ball to secure a 45-23 win over the 24th-ranked Hokies on Saturday night and look more and more like a team that is making plans to find a spot in the College Football Playoff this season.
That’s not to say it wasn’t an easy, breezy trip below the Mason-Dixon line for Brian Kelly’s team. Quarterback Ian Book threw his first interception of the season right to an undercutting linebacker but found his rhythm as the game went on and finished with a respectable 271 yards and two touchdowns. His relatively quiet night won’t cause any fans to call for backup Brandon Wimbush by any measure but it did allow others to take the offensive spotlight as a result.
Once again it was running back Dexter Williams who provided the spark the team needed, breaking off a 97-yard run on the seventh play of the second half on his way to 178 yard, three score effort. Book also hooked up several times with Miles Boykin, who had a big night with 117 yards through the air and two touchdowns down the stretch that essentially sealed the result on the scoreboard.
Kicker Justin Yoon also set a school record for career scoring with an extra point in the fourth quarter and Julian Love recorded a scoop-and-score touchdown just before halftime as part of a strong defensive effort from Notre Dame.
Virginia Tech did have their chances early in the game but never could quite capitalize on short fields and miscues. Signal-caller Ryan Willis was under siege most of the night with a hand in his face but threw for 309 yards, two scores and two picks — doing well to only get sacked twice. Steven Peoples led the way on the ground with 64 yards but the Hokies had to take the air most of the second half as they fell further and further behind.
The victory makes the Irish bowl eligible as they move to 6-0 but, perhaps more significantly, gives the team their first road win against a ranked team since 2015. The trip to Blacksburg was viewed by many as a tricky one but the group passed the test with flying colors and put together yet another impressive second half to pull away against a solid team.
It will also lead to even more speculation that this is going to be a special season in South Bend with the Playoff looking not just like a possibility, but a real likelihood given the upcoming schedule. Notre Dame will return home to play Pitt on NBC next weekend and do not have a top 25 caliber team left on the docket. A rivalry game against Navy in San Diego and against USC in L.A. to end the year could be tricky but there certainly a path to 12-0 if the team keeps playing like they have been on this remarkable run in 2018.
Pardon me while I clean up a bit of personnel news from late last week during these early-morning hours.
Early last week, speculation was making the rounds that Jayden McDonald was considering a transfer away from Iowa. Friday evening, the speculation became a reality as the football program confirmed in a press release that the redshirt freshman linebacker has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.
It’s at this point in the program where we remind our readers that entering a name into the portal doesn’t guarantee a departure, even as it allows other programs to contact the player without receiving permission from his current school. McDonald could also reverse course, pull his name from the database and return to the Hawkeyes.
Conversely, the university can take away McDonald’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.
After originally committing to Rutgers, McDonald signed with Iowa as a three-star recruit in 2018. The Georgia high schooler opted for Iowa over Kansas State, Ole Miss and Purdue.
McDonald didn’t see the field as a true freshman and, with the Hawkeyes moving to a 4-2-5 base defense this season, he saw his opportunities for playing time in Iowa City narrowed even further.
With his wife fighting cancer, Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson is stepping away from the football part of his life temporarily to be with his family. Arkansas State announced the news Monday evening. Defensive coordinator David Duggan will take over as the interim head coach until Anderson is ready to return to the team.
“Coach Anderson has decided to take a leave of absence during this difficult time to be with his wife, Wendy, and his family,” a statement from Arkansas State Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir said in a released statement. “We will continue to pray for peace for his family and provide assistance any way we can.”
Anderson has been dividing his time between football and being with his wife, but there comes a time when you have to realize there is much more to focus on than football. This is certainly one of those times, and good for Arkansas State to allow their head coach to do what he needs to do during this troubling time for his family.
Cancer sucks, plain and simple.
And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.
Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).
Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).
2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith
- Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
- Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
- Woody Barrett, Kent State
- Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
- Anthony Brown, Boston College
- Kelly Bryant, Missouri
- Joe Burrow, LSU
- Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
- Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
- K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
- Jacob Eason, Washington University
- Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
- Mason Fine, North Texas
- Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
- Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
- Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
- Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
- Quentin Harris, Duke University
- Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
- Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
- Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
- Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
- Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
- D’Eriq King, Houston
- Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
- Jordan Love, Utah State University
- Jake Luton, Oregon State University
- Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
- Justin McMillan, Tulane
- Steven Montez, University of Colorado
- James Morgan, FIU
- Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
- Kato Nelson, Akron
- Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
- Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
- Malcolm Perry, Navy
- Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
- Armani Rogers, UNLV
- Nathan Rourke, Ohio
- Anthony Russo, Temple University
- J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
- Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
- Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
- Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
- Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
- Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
- Brady White, University of Memphis
- Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
- Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida
Western Kentucky has dismissed running back Quinton Baker and offensive lineman Preston Mixon from the program following a pair of weekend incidents involving police responding to “shots-fired” calls. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, police investigating the incidents confirmed at least one WKU football player was connected to each incident.
Whether the incidents are connected or separate was not confirmed. No arrests have been made at this time, but a team spokesperson confirmed the two have been removed from the roster with confirmation it was these two players who were tied to the weekend investigation.
This is the second time in as many years Baker has been removed from the program. In May, WKU head coach Tyson Helton welcomed Baker back after he had been previously dismissed by former Hilltopper coach Mike Sanford. He was later confirmed to be eligible to play immediately this fall for WKU. Baker had played in two games for FCS Portland State in 2018 after his dismissal in 2018. Baker had been dismissed for multiple violations of team rules in 2018. He was arrested for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana in 2016 and indicted in connection to an assault in 2017, to which he pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanors.
Baker rushed for 233 yards and one touchdown in seven games in 2017 for WKU, a year after rushing for 542 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games.
Mixon made appearances in two games last season. His loss from the roster will trim down on the competition for a key role on the offensive line for WKU.