Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-1) quarterback Brandon Wimbush passed for a career high 280 yards, Heisman candidate Josh Adams left the game late in the first quarter with an apparent injury after just 5 carries for 22 yards but coach Brian Kelly and his squad put up a season best 710 total yards of offense en route to their seventh straight victory and a 48-37 final over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-4)
The Demon Deacons jumped out to an early 3-0 lead but the Irish answered with a Wimbush TD run and a 7-3 lead. That was closest that Wake Forest would get for the rest of the game.
Adams came into the game as the fifth leading rusher in the nation with 1,169 yards. He was missing on the sideline for most of the first half but then appeared just before halftime. Rumblings of the potential injury were said to have been a possible concussion, but Kelly shot down those rumors in his post game press conference.
“Josh has had a busy week with exams and other things,” Kelly stated. “He just wasn’t feeling right”.
I’m not sure what kind of excuse that was from Kelly protecting his player but with the Irish sporting the number 6 rushing offense in the nation, the rest of the backs took over as they amassed 380 yards on the ground. Wimbush led the assault with 110 yards rushing and was backed by Deon McIntosh who tallied 63 yards.
Another injury scare happened moments before the end of the first half as Wimbush was hit hard at the Demon Deacons one yard line as he dashed towards the end zone. Wimbush left the game at that time as backup quarterback Ian Book filled in and promptly found Nic Wisher for a 1 yard TD score. Wimbush returned for the first Irish possession in the third quarter and had a wrap on his non throwing hand.
Kelly said of Wimbush, “I loved his grit, his toughness, gets hit pretty hard, right before the half, and, you know, i try to keep him out of the game in the third quarter, but he had not thoughts of that. He wanted to get back in the game, so put a pad on his hand and went back in the game and showed great grit and great leadership.”
The Irish put together touchdown drives of 5, 65 and 99 yards in the second quarter as they went into halftime with a commanding 31-10 lead.
Wimbush completed 15 of his 30 passes with 1 TD and his career best 280. He also added 2 rushing TD’s. When Book filled in, he completed all 8 of his passes for 50 yards and that one TD. Wide receiver Chase Claypool had career highs in catches with 9 and in yards with 180, he also added a TD score.
The Irish defense on the other hand were having fits with the Demon Deacons fast paced offense led by quarterback John Wolford. The defense for the first time this year gave up more than 20 points as Wake Forest put up 37. It was the first game that a back ran for 100 yards against Notre Dame and the Irish gave up a whopping 587 total yards, the most on the season.
The Irish were outscored in the second half as Wake Forest put up 27 points in the half to the Irish’s 17. Yes the last two scores by the Demon Deacons were mostly garbage time points but it still put the final deficit at 11 points.
“Wake Forest executed their offense terrifically. They were really, really good tonight. And then, secondly, you saw missed tackles that you haven’t seen all year.” Kelly stated.
I understand the emotional negative response from some of the fan base after the outcome of the game and the fact that the Irish gave up so many points and yards on defense. Most saying that if the defense plays like that against Miami, Navy or Stanford the season is over. But it is just one game, the one game that was a “defensive let down” as I’ve seen being said.
As Kelly said after the game, “Winning is hard, especially in November.” “Anytime you find a way to win a football game — Wake Forest executed its offense extremely well — is helpful. This game can humble you in a heartbeat.”
Next the Irish look forward to a prime time showdown with the #10 Miami Hurricanes in Miami, Florida this coming Saturday night in what will potentially be a College Football Playoff “elimination” game.