Ian Book

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No. 3 Georgia holds off No. 7 Notre Dame for 23-17 win

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Before the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Sanford Stadium, No. 3 Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) took time wearing down No. 7 Notre Dame (2-1) for a 23-17 victory Saturday night. Despite a handful of injuries before and during the game, Georgia managed to overcome an early special teams mistake and shut down the Irish in the second half. Georgia outscored Notre Dame 13-0 after halftime.

Georgia running back D’Andre Swift led all players with 81 rushing yards and scored Georgia’s first touchdown in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7. Jake Fromm gave Georgia a cushion in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard pass to Lawrence Cager. The touchdown lifted Georgia to a 20-10 lead at the end of an 82-yard drive after Notre Dame had gone three-and-out.

Notre Dame’s second-half drive summary was not good, to put it kindly. After halftime, Notre Dame fumbled on the third play of their first offensive series, which led to a Georgia field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship to tie the game at 10-10. The Irish then went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, leading to another field goal by Blankenship to give Georgia their first lead of the night late in the third quarter. Another punt after losing two yards in three plays led to the Georgia touchdown drive, and Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book was picked off by J.R. Reed on the following possession at the Georgia 33-yard line. That was Notre Dame’s last chance to make things interesting because the Bulldogs began to work the clock. Keeping things on the ground, for the most part, Georgia killed nearly four minutes off the clock before one more field goal by Blankenship to extend the lead to 23-10.

If the atmosphere was a factor, it showed. Notre Dame was called for seven false start penalties in the game. A record crowd at Sanford Stadium of 93,246 was crammed in to watch the events unfold in person. Most of them ended up going home with a smile on their face.

Georgia did suffer some notable injuries in the game. Starting offensive linemen Isaiah Wilson (didn’t play; ankle) and Solomon Kindley (left game; left leg injury) were among the injured Bulldogs, and cornerback Eric Stokes left the game after injuring his knee on the second play of the game.

This all sets Georgia up for a playoff run. With a win against a top 10 opponent under their belts and a favorable schedule the rest of the season, Georgia should be a near-lock for a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a possible 12-0 record. A road trip to Auburn late in the year could be the biggest hurdle remaining, and that could be a nice boost to a playoff profile if things fall just right for Kirby Smart and his program.

While it would be premature to suggest Notre Dame has been eliminated in the playoff discussion, it is a safe bet to say they have a much tougher path back into the playoff mix with a loss. With no conference championship game to fall back on and Michigan getting steamrolled earlier in the day to take some of the luster off their late October showdown in Ann Arbor (note: just some luster), Notre Dame is already in a likely position where they will need to take care of their own schedule the rest fo the way to go 11-1 and then hope for a little help from around the country. The good news for Notre Dame is they likely won’t fall back too far in the polls and there will be teams that take losses the next few months. But it will be tougher on the Irish now.

Georgia will get next week off before jumping into SEC play in October. The Bulldogs will play on the road against a Tennessee program that continues to struggle. The Vols were blown out on the road at Florida earlier in the day. For Georgia, all eyes may be looking ahead to November 2 when Georgia meets Florida in Jacksonville. That game is expected to decide the fate of the SEC East Division, but Georgia must get past Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky first. Those three teams are a combined 4-8.

there will be no bye week for Notre Dame until mid-October, so the Irish will be back at it next week with a home game against No. 21 Virginia. The Cavaliers avoided a home upset to Old Dominion on Saturday. Notre Dame will play their next three games at home with Bowling Green and USC each visiting after Virginia before Notre Dame reaches their next bye week.

No. 7 Notre Dame capitalizes on special teams mistake by No. 3 Georgia to lead at halftime

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No. 3 Georgia may have been a big favorite against No. 7 Notre Dame coming into Saturday night’s contest of unbeaten teams, but it is the Fighting Irish who reach halftime with the lead. Notre Dame leads Georgia 10-7 at halftime.

Defense has been the theme of the game so far, which makes a mistake on special teams by Georgia even more a factor. Georgia punt returner Tyler Simmons muffed a punt return deep in the Georgia end of the field in the second quarter. Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool came swooping in to recover the live ball and gave the Irish field position at the Georgia eight-yard line. But it would take a fourth-down pass from Ian Book to Cole Kmet to get on the board. Kmet didn’t appear to be the intended receiver, but Notre Dame was happy to take it.

Georgia would respond to tie the game before halftime. On the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs got their running game going against the Irish defense. D’Andre Swift finished off a 12-play drive with a short touchdown run that was upheld by a video replay. Notre Dame had a quick answer in their pockets before halftime though, as Book completed four straight passes to move from the Notre Dame 25-yard line down to the Georgia 12-yard line. The Irish settled for a field goal in the final seconds of the half to take the lead.

Georgia did lose one of their big offensive linemen in the first half. Left Guard Solomon Kindley was carted off the field as Georgia was finishing off their touchdown drive. Earlier in the game, Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes was helped off the field at the end of a play as well.

Will Notre Dame continue to hang with Georgia in the second half, or will the Bulldogs find a way to take the lead and pull away for a big win?

No. 9 Notre Dame shuts down Louisville in season-opening 35-17 win

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No. 9 Notre Dame (1-0) spoiled the start of the Scott Satterfield era at Louisville (0-1) by shutting down the Cardinals in the second half Monday night in Louisville. Since being knotted up at 14-14 after the first quarter, the Fighting Irish outscored the home team 21-3 the rest of the way for a 35-17 win to start the new year.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book gave the Irish the lead just before halftime, making up for a lost fumble just a few plays prior to that. Book lost a fumble one play after the Irish recovered a Louisville fumble. But the third fumble in three successive plays gave the ball right back to Notre Dame, and Book capitalized with an 11-yard run with 17 seconds left before the halftime break.

Book then added to the Notre Dame lead with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Tremble midway through the third quarter. With the Irish defense getting a handle on Louisville quarterback Jawon Pass and the Cardinals unable to sustain the energy and momentum they ha din the first quarter, Notre Dame started to pull away. After Louisville resigned to settling for a 42-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to cut the Notre Dame lead to 28-17, the Irish delivered what was essentially the knockout blow with Jahmir Smith‘s one-yard touchdown run at the end of a 12-play, 75-yard drive.

There were some glimpses of improved football by Louisville that Satterfield can take into practices for next week. Among the chief areas of concern should be ball control. Louisville lost three fumbles. Last season, Satterfield’s Appalachian State was among the best teams in the nation in handling the football with just 10 fumbles all season long, and just five lost fumbles all year. Louisville was much more of a mess handling the football, ranking 125th in the nation with 23 fumbles and 10 fumbles lost. It may not happen overnight, but Satterfield should be able to find ways to improve how his players hold on to the football relatively quickly. Pass scored both Louisville touchdowns on the ground, but has room to improve with his passing accuracy (10-of-24 for 127 yards).

Notre Dame had some shaky moments early on with the defense as Louisville was showing some new looks with their offense, but the Irish calmed things down a bit and started locking down on the Cardinals offense after the first quarter. The defense in South Bend should once again be pretty solid against most of their opponents. As seems to be the biggest concern in the Brian Kelly era is will the defense be good enough when up against some of the nation’s best programs. We don’t need to worry too much about that just yet, although a road trip to Georgia is approaching pretty quickly (Sept. 21).

Next up for Notre Dame is a home date with New Mexico, coached by former Fighting Irish head coach Bob Davie. Whether Davie coaches his team this weekend remains in question as the former Irish coach recovers from a health scare from over the weekend. Davie coached at Notre Dame from 1997 through 2001 after serving three seasons as the defensive coordinator for Lou Holtz. This weekend would mark Davie’s first game as a coach back in South Bend if he is able to make the trip and coach for New Mexico. Davie was 35-25 as head coach at Notre Dame, with a 0-3 bowl record.

Louisville will host Eastern Kentucky, an FCS opponent, in Week 2.

Ian Book gives Notre Dame a late first half lead on Louisville, 21-14

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Notre Dame might be in for a tougher battle than the experts predicted. Notre Dame holds a lead at halftime in Louisville, but the Cardinals are not about to go away. A late fumble by the Cardinals (one play after Notre Dame fumbled, which was one play after Louisville had fumbled) allowed the Irish to take the lead with Ian Book (who was responsible for the fumble) taking off for an easy touchdown run. At halftime, Notre Dame leads Louisville 21-14.

Notre Dame looked like it had an offensive game plan that has been worked on for months to set the tone after their playoff elimination last season. Ian Book was perfect throwing the football and took advantage of a Louisville defender turning his back on him for a 37-yard gain on the ground on the first play from scrimmage. Jahmir Smith finished the 75-yard drive with a short three-yard touchdown run to give the Irish an early lead. But Louisville wasted no time in providing some energy for the blackout crowd. Jawon Pass picked up an 18-yard completion to Seth Dawkins and Javian Hawkins managed to find some yards on the ground on the ensuing possession. On 3rd and 12, Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara gave away five free yards with an offside penalty, and Pass took off for a 13-yard gain on the next snap. A 15-yard by Javian Hawkins a few plays later led to an eventual touchdown run by Pass to draw even at 7-7.

Notre Dame went three-and-out on their next series, and Louisville took the lead after that with a 12-play touchdown drive. Pass once again did the honors by running the ball into the endzone for the lead. This time it was a reversal of fortune, however, as the Irish were the ones to answer right away. An 11-yard run by Tony Jones evened the score at 14-14 later in the first quarter.

The second quarter saw the scoring slow down, with only the late score by the Irish putting the dent on the scoreboard.

If you need to put on a pot of coffee, now is the time. You may not want to miss the end of this game.

No. 3 Notre Dame makes playoff statement with blowout of No. 12 Syracuse

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One win is all that separates No. 3 Notre Dame (11-0) from a perfect regular season after a complete domination of No. 12 Syracuse (8-3) on Saturday in Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame’s 36-3 victory over the Orange was highlighted by strong defense and the return of quarterback Ian Book to the offense.

Syracuse’s chances to upset the Irish faded early in the game when starting quarterback Eric Dungey left the game with an injury. His loss took a lot out of the Orange offense, which was already going to be in a tough spot against the Notre Dame defense. With Tommy DeVito taking over at quarterback off the bench, Syracuse quarterbacks combined for three interceptions and DeVito struggled with accuracy all game long. Syracuse also failed to get much going on the ground with Moe Neal, who picked up 74 yards on 18 carries.

Book passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns after sitting out last week against Florida State. The Irish ran the ball well too, with 171 team yards and a pair of touchdowns in the blowout.

Notre Dame will head to the west coast to take on USC next weekend to wrap up their regular season. A win would move Notre Dame to 12-0 and force them to await the selections from the College Football Playoff selection committee. At 12-0, Notre Dame would almost certainly be one of the four teams in the playoff at the end of the season, but seeding will still be unknown until a few more weeks are played.

Syracuse will hop back into ACC play for their regular season finale at Boston College next week. Second place in the ACC Atlantic Division will be on the line as both teams will finish behind Clemson in the division. Syracuse may have seen a chance to play in a New Years Six bowl dashed with the loss, however.