SOUTH BEND –
How it Happened
The first few minutes of the game did not go as planned for the Irish. Notre Dame got the ball first and immediately went three-and-out, with Michael Young taking a huge hit on a swing pass that left the Falcons fired up. On the ensuing Bowling Green possession, Irish linebacker Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa had defensive end Julian Okwara land on his leg making a tackle and MTA immediately grabbed his ankle in obvious pain. He was down on the field for a couple of minutes before walking off gingerly under his own power. He did not return until late in the first quarter.
The Irish forced a punt on that opening Falcons drive and then Tony Jones Jr. got the Notre Dame offense going. He broke off four carries for 40 yards to open the drive, breaking tackles and barreling his way through the middle on all of them. From there, Ian Book got going, completing a nice back-shoulder throw to Javon McKinley for 23 yards and following that with a remarkably easy 17-yard touchdown to tight end Tommy Tremble on a post route. Tremble was so open it looked like backyard football and the Irish went up 7-0. Even that drive had a downside, however, as top wide receiver Chase Claypool hobbled off the field after making a block on one of Jones' runs. He'd been nursing an ankle that was less than 100% and he seemed to aggravate it on the play. He returned on the next series.
Claypool looked perfectly healthy on that following Notre Dame drive when he caught a crossing route and got the corner for a 19-yard gain. The Irish had taken over at the Bowling Green 46 after a good punt return from Chris Finke and on the play after Claypool's catch, Book hit another tight end, Cole Kmet, on a wide-open seam route and Kmet waltzed in for a 21-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Notre Dame lead midway through the first quarter. At that point, Book was 6 for 6 for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
The first quarter thrashing wasn't over yet, however. After another Bowling Green three-and-out, the Irish again got the ball at midfield following a good Finke punt return, Notre Dame got on the move again. Kmet caught a short pass and blew up a would-be tackler, drawing an "oooh" sound from the crowd and gaining 10 yards. On the next play, the fourth of the drive, Book dropped back and found Claypool a step beyond the cornerback on a go route and hit him in stride for a 34-yard touchdown. It was one of the deepest throws the Irish have completed this season and gave Notre Dame a 21-0 lead with 4:44 still remaining in the first quarter.
It was a three-touchdown Irish lead at the end of the first quarter and the second quarter brought more of the same. The Irish continued to move the ball at will on offense as Book hung around in the pocket behind a nearly-impenetrable offensive line and flipped the ball to a variety of wide-open receivers. He continued to look downfield on a regular basis, a change from the more conservative passing game of the last few weeks. He hit Claypool on an 8-yard drag route for a touchdown as the pocket collapsed around him midway through the quarter and then found McKinley for a 25-yard score in the corner of the end zone near the end of the half to make it 35-0 before halftime, giving Book five touchdown passes before the end of the half.
The only blips for the Irish in the first half came on defense, as Bowling Green found some semblance of a running game in the second quarter. The Falcons didn't score (Notre Dame got a key stop on fourth-and-1, stuffing a quarterback sneak, and also intercepted a Hail Mary at the end of the half in the end zone), but they did have some big holes to run through in the middle. Running backs Bryson Denley and Davon Jones each had runs of at least 15 yards and both of them came up talking trash after laying big hits on Notre Dame safeties. Jones stood over Alohi Gilman and yelped at him, leading to some pushing and shoving.
The Irish kept pouring it on in the third quarter, even as backups replaced starters. Book gave way to second-string quarterback Phil Jurkovec midway through the third quarter and Jurkovec promptly led a touchdown drive. He hit Avery Davis deep over the middle for 32 yards to put the ball inside the Bowling Green 10, a terrific leaping catch by Davis. On the next play, Davis started in the backfield and ran into the flat, where Jurkovec found him open for a 7-yard touchdown pass. It was Jurkovec's first career TD toss and it put the Irish in front 45-0.
C'Bo Flemister completed the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter to make it 52-0. Jurkovec led touchdown drives on both series he played.
Player of the Game: Ian Book
Book had one of the best statistical games of his Notre Dame career, going 16 for 20 for 261 yards and five touchdowns. The five scores tied a career-high and was the second time he had reached that total in the last four games. It comes up one short of Brady Quinn's Notre Dame record of six. Book's touchdowns went to four different receivers. He was not sacked and left the game with his team up 38 late in the third quarter.
Facts and Figures
Notre Dame has won 14 straight home games, the third-longest streak for the Irish since Notre Dame Stadium opened in 1930. ... Bowling Green defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder held the same position with Notre Dame from 2014 to 2016, but was fired four games into the 2016 season. Falcons head coach Scot Loeffler faced the Irish when he was quarterback at Michigan in the mid-1990s and as the offensive coordinator at Boston College in 2017. ... This is the first time Notre Dame has shut out an opponent since the 31-0 win over Michigan in 2014. VanGorder was the Irish defensive coordinator that day. ... Notre Dame came in No. 1 in the country in turnover margin at plus-9 and was plus-1 in this game. ... The Irish entered the game perfect in red zone scoring percentage, converting on their first 14 trips inside the 20 this season with 12 touchdowns. They went 6 for 6 in the red zone today, with five touchdowns. ... Jones Jr. finished with 102 yards on seven carries, his second straight 100-yard performance and third this season. ... McKinley had five catches for 104 yards, both career-highs and his first 100-yard game ... Among those in attendance were former Irish stars Romeo Okwara and Sam Mustipher. ... Before the game, ESPN's "College Gameday" announced it would be at Notre Dame's Aug. 29, 2020 season-opening matchup with Navy. The matchup is in Dublin, Ireland.
The Irish are back in action in Week 7 taking on USC (3-2) in a rivalry battle for the Shillelagh Trophy at Notre Dame Stadium. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be broadcast on NBC. The Trojans will be coming off a bye, but their last game was a 28-14 loss to Washington. They do have wins over Stanford and Utah this season. The Irish have won three of the last four in this series, which has been played annually since 1946.