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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush scores a first-half touchdown Saturday against Wake Forest. He ran for two TDs and passed for a third.

Sunday, November 05, 2017 1:00 am

Notre Dame 48 Wake Forest 37

Wimbush does it all in Irish win

Has 280 yards passing; offense cranks out 710

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Extra Points

• Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love has already been credited with the most pass breakups in a single season in school history. The previous mark was 13, set by Clarence Ellis in 1969.

• Snider graduate Jessie Bates III, a Wake Forest starting safety, missed the game due to an injury, but he did make the trip and watched from the sideline. “Jessie is a really good player,” coach Dave Clawson said. “We need to get him back as soon as we can.”

• Notre Dame's Montgomery VanGorder was named a semifinalist for the Mortell Holder of the Year Award, which goes to the nation's top holder for placements.

SOUTH BEND – Brandon Wimbush looked as focused as he has at any point all season, and Notre Dame's quarterback has seldom looked better than he did in Saturday's 48-37 victory over Wake Forest.

He surpassed 250 yards passing for the first time, completing 15 of 30 throws for 280 yards and a touchdown, and added 11 rushes (not counting sacks) for 114 yards and two scores.

Most of that came before halftime, when Notre Dame led 31-10, and none of it came in the fourth quarter, when Wimbush was rested with yet another blowout win in hand.

All in all, it was a banner day as the Irish (8-1) gained 710 yards of total offense, 10 yards shy of the school record, while Wimbush was rewarded with a game ball in the locker room.

“I thought I played within the expectations of the offense,” the sophomore said. “The progression is heading the right way for the entire offense.”

With Wimbush playing like that, Notre Dame, ranked third by the College Football Playoff selection committee, seems as if it can play with any team in the nation. This was the eighth time the Irish went over 300 yards rushing but their first day over 300 yards passing.

“Wimbush is good,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “I mean, they threw the ball on us, too. It could have been even uglier. It could have been a 900-yard day for them if they hit all their deep shots.”

In his first year starting, Wimbush's threat as a runner was quickly apparent. He averaged 21 carries for 89.6 yards in the first five games. He has been limited as a passer, completing only 51.5 percent of his throws, but his decision-making and ability to read defenses appear to be improving.

“This game requires you to be 100 percent locked in at all times,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “Great game by Wimbush. The narrative of him not being able to throw the ball should change dramatically.

“I loved his grit: gets hit pretty hard right before the half, and I try to keep him out in the third quarter, but he had no thoughts of that.”

Wimbush, who suffered a bruised left hand, left the game for one play. Ian Book (8 of 8 for 60 yards) did the job, culminating a 99-yard drive with a 1-yard TD pass to Nic Weishar with 22 seconds remaining in the first half.

All this unfolded on a day standout tailback Josh Adams received little work. He had 22 yards on five carries, all in the first quarter.

“We were just really cautious with Josh,” Kelly said. “He was rundown this week. He just didn't feel good.”

Fortunately for the Irish, sophomore wide receiver Chase Claypool looked great. He caught nine passes for 180 yards, including a 34-yard TD that made it 41-16 late in the third quarter. His previous career highs (four catches and 56 yards) were set Sept. 23 at Michigan State.

“Never could have predicted it,” Claypool said.

Notre Dame had been the only team in the nation yet to allow more than 20 points in a game, but Kelly praised good execution from the Demon Deacons (5-4) more than anything else.

Since a Sept. 9 loss to Georgia, the Irish are 7-0. Next up will be No. 10 Miami.

“When we head down to Miami it will be the same outcome,” Wimbush said, “a 'W,' but done in a more convincing way.”

cgoff@jg.net