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.
A significant loss for Western Kentucky’s defense could prove to be a boon for Purdue on that side of the ball.
In an email to the West Lafayette Journal & Courier, Ben Holt confirmed that he has decided to transfer from Western Kentucky to Purdue and continue his collegiate playing career with the Boilermakers. As he is expected to graduate from WKU in May, the linebacker will be eligible to play immediately in 2019 for the Big Ten school.
Holt is the son of Nick Holt, who has spent the past two seasons as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Purdue. Ben Holt’s head coach his first two seasons with the Hilltoppers was Jeff Brohm, who is entering his third year in the same job with the Boilermakers.
This past season, Holt started all 12 games for the Hilltoppers. He led the team in tackles with 116, tackles for losses with 11½ and quarterback hurries with nine. His five pass breakups were good for third on the squad in 2018.
All told, Holt played in 38 games his past three seasons in Bowling Green.
Holt becomes the third former Hilltopper to transfer to the Boilermakers since Brohm came to West Lafayette. Starting linebacker T.J. McCollum followed the coach in February of 2017, with starting offensive lineman Dennis Edwards following McCollum a year later.
The near-complete revamping of Nick Saban‘s coaching staff wasn’t the only football news coming out of Tuscaloosa late this past week.
According to al.com, outside linebacker Chris Allen underwent what was described as a minor surgical procedure on his knee Thursday. The specific nature of the injury wasn’t detailed.
Allen, who missed the entire 2018 season after tearing an ACL, is expected to be healthy enough to participate in spring practice, which kicks off next month.
A four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2017 recruiting class, Allen was rated as the No. 4 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of Alabama. As a true freshman, the Baton Rouge native played in seven games.
As noted by the website, Allen is set to be one of the Tide’s top backup linebackers on the outside this coming season.
Yeah, that’ll do it.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Minnesota tight end Max Janes is facing felony charges after allegedly assaulting a police officer very early in the morning of Feb. 8. It’s alleged that an intoxicated Janes was in the process of breaking into a post office when police officers responded, with the football player ultimately turning violent and allegedly punching one of the cops in the face.
From the Star Tribune‘s report:
According to the criminal complaint: Officers were dispatched to a welfare check on reports of an individual improperly dressed for the cold weather loitering outside the post office. They located Janes just as he gained unlawful entry into the building’s loading dock. Officers placed Janes in their squad car, but opened the rear door after he informed them that he needed to vomit.
Instead, Janes got out and punched an officer — causing demonstrable bodily harm, the complaint says. He was eventually restrained and booked at Hennepin County jail, where he was charged with fourth-degree assault of a peace officer and obstructing the legal process.
As a result of the off-field incident, Janes was dismissed from the football team.
“We have extremely high standards for members of our team and when those standards are not met there are consequences,” head coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “Law enforcement officers speak to our team and educate them multiple times a year, and we greatly appreciate those who protect and serve us on a daily basis.”
A preferred walk-on, Janes played in 13 games as a true freshman this past season. The vast majority of his action came on special teams.
Maybe the third time will be a charm?
Following the end of the 2018 season, Craig Bohl parted ways with his long-time offensive line coach Scott Fuchs and embarked on a search for a replacement. That search ended with Wyoming’s hiring of Klayton Adams; less than a month later, another search for a line coach was launched as Adams took a job as the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.
A little over a week later, and while there’s nothing official yet from the Cowboys, Frank Solich confirmed to the Athens Messenger this past week that Ohio’s offensive line coach, Bart Miller, has taken the same job at Wyoming.
“Our coaches loved working with him, our players loved working with him. We appreciate what he was all about and how he helped our team be what it was last year,” the head coach told the Messenger.
Last season was Miller’s first with the Bobcats. As the newspaper noted, this will mark Miller’s fourth different school in as many years as he was on the coaching staffs at Minnesota and Air Force in 2016 and 2017, respectively.