No. 8 Notre Dame (3-0) won once again, but concerns about the offense are not about to go hiding just yet. Fortunately for Notre Dame, the defense and running game remain strengths as they managed to hold off Vanderbilt (2-1) in Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, winning 22-17.
Looking to push their lead to eight points in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame called on kicker Justin Yoon for a 32-yard field goal. After knocking down his three previous attempts for nine points, Yoon saw his fourth field goal try bounce off the bar, no good. Vanderbilt took over at their 24-yard yard line, needing a touchdown to win in the final moments.
Two plays later, Vanderbilt reached midfield with a 26-yard pass from Kyle Shurmur to Jared Pinkney. But the drive stalled soon after that with a run for no gain and two straight incomplete passes to set up a fourth down with 10 yards to go. A defensive penalty on Notre Dame allowed the drive to continue after an incomplete pass on fourth down. Three plays later, it was once again fourth down for Vandy. Shurmur connected for a big play to Kalija Lipscomb, but Lipscomb was unable to maintain possession of the football as he fell to the ground on the leaping catch.
Lipscomb had 11 catches for 89 yards in the game, but it will be what could have been the 12th that will haunt him after this one. Notre Dame managed to run off a good chunk of the clock after taking over on downs.
Brandon Wimbush was 13-of-23 for 122 yards with no touchdowns thrown, although this week he avoided throwing an interception. Ian Book got some opportunities in certain situations and cashed in on one with a touchdown pass to Nic Weishar to put the Irish up 12 in the fourth quarter. The pass came at the end of a drive with Wimbush leading the offense, but it was Book who ended it with a score and took a shot at a two-point conversion (which was no good). Book was effective in extreme moderation, and it remains to be seen if Kelly will begin giving him more opportunities. Wimbush had success running the ball, however. Wimbush rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Shurmur passed for 315 yards and a touchdown with one interception for Vanderbilt. Notre Dame running back Tony Jones Jr. led all players with 116 rushing yards.
Notre Dame will go on the road next week to play at Wake Forest. Games against Stanford at home and at Virginia Tech follow.
Vanderbilt opens their SEC schedule at home against South Carolina in SEC East action.
Notre Dame scored on their first two possessions of the game for a 10-0 lead and the Irish have tacked on a could of field goals since to take a 16-3 lead on Vanderbilt into the locker rooms at halftime in South Bend, Indiana.
Brandon Wimbush has rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown while having a less-than-stellar day throwing the football against the Commodores. Kicker Justin Yoon has converted all three of his field goal attempts in the game so far.
The defense has been the story of the half for both teams, but the Irish have been having a bit more success as the score would indicate. Vanderbilt has also been hurt by costly penalties and an inability to get a running game going. Vanderbilt was forced to punt on each of their first four punts.
If you need visual evidence of just how difficult it has been for Vanderbilt, take a look at this play that went down in the second quarter. The best scoring opportunity fo the half for the Commodores exploded when Kyle Shurmur completed a pass to Randall Haynie down to the one or two-yard line, but the ball was stripped loose by Alohi Gilman and flew straight up into the air, and a mad scramble for the football resulted in a touchback for the Irish. Julian Love recovered the football at the back of the end zone for Notre Dame.
Down 16-0 without any offense is making for a tricky second half ahead for Vanderbilt on the road. But Notre Dame isn’t exactly putting this one out of reach with their offense. A couple of scoring drives after halftime, if they can find them, would put Vanderbilt right back in this one.
Remember yesterday when we shared the initial 2018 Heisman Trophy odds from Bovada? Well, scrap that already because the people have come in with enough bets to warrant some quick changes to the Heisman odds. Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins soared up four spots to climb into the top spot on Bovada’s board after just 24 hours.
Dobbins was initially given 12/1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy, and the bettors went scrambling for those odds. Bovada’s updated odds see Dobbins as the way-too-early favorite with 6/1 odds. Tied for the best odds with Dobbins is another Big Ten running back, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. Taylor didn’t move up quite as dramatically to 6/1 after having 8/1 odds a day ago. The short-lived preseason favorite from Bovada and 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up, Stanford running back Bryce Love, has slipped into third on the board with 7/1 odds. Alabama’s national championship hero, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, tied Love with 7/1 odds.
Some other notable dramatic changes include the addition of Missouri quarterback Drew Lock (25/1). Lock, the SEC’s top passer returning in 2018, was initially left completely off the board. He is the only newcomer to the updated odds from Bovada at this moment. The most notable drop in the odds was from Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver, who fell from 55/1 odds to 66/1. Most other drops were just by a few spots, including Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate falling from 9/1 to 14/1, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier falling from 12/1 to 16/1 and Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley dropping from 18/1 to 20/1.
Here are the updated Heisman odds as relayed by Bovada:
J.K. Dobbins (RB Ohio State) 6/1
Jonathan Taylor (RB Wisconsin) 6/1
Bryce Love (RB Stanford) 7/1
Tua Tagovailoa (QB Alabama) 7/1
Jake Fromm (QB Georgia) 12/1
Khalil Tate (QB Arizona) 14/1
Will Grier (QB West Virginia) 16/1
Jarrett Stidham (QB Auburn) 16/1
Kelly Bryant (QB Clemson) 18/1
Justin Herbert (QB Oregon) 18/1
Trace McSorley (QB Penn State) 20/1
Cam Akers (RB Florida State) 25/1
Rodney Anderson (RB Oklahoma) 25/1
Jake Browning (QB Washington) 25/1
Ryan Finley (QB NC State) 25/1
Drew Lock (QB Missouri) 25/1
McKenzie Milton (QB UCF) 25/1
Travis Etienne (RB Clemson) 35/1
Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State) 35/1
D'Andre Swift (RB Georgia) 35/1
Brandon Winbush (QB Notre Dame) 35/1
David Sills (WR West Virginia) 45/1
Ed Oliver (DL Houston) 66/1
Nick Bosa (DL Ohio State) 75/1
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.
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.