SOUTH BEND – No. 7 Notre Dame jumped on South Florida early and kept the pressure on all afternoon, grabbing a 52-0 victory in its only non-conference matchup this season.
- Notre Dame is rich in running back talent: The Irish spread the ball around in its running game, giving Kyren Williams, Chris Tyree and C'Bo Flemister plenty of work. Running behind an offensive line that pushed the Bulls' front back all afternoon, all three backs picked up some big gains, with three combining for 254 yards and an 8.2 per-carry average. Tyree flashed tough between-the-tackles running that coach Brian Kelly said surprised the coaching staff when it observed the speedster in fall camp and Flemister had a breakout game in his third season in the program. Williams was solid for the second straight week and although he remains the starter, he likely won't have to be a workhorse back much this season; the Irish have plenty of ball-carriers to share the load. The only running back who didn't have much of an impact on the ground today was Jafar Armstrong, who now appears to be almost exclusively a pass-catching back. He's still plenty valuable in that role. The Irish even gave tight end Tommy Tremble a couple of carries as the fullback, a package they could use in goal-line situations this season.
- Tommy Tremble might be a star: Notre Dame brought in two of the top six tight ends in the 2020 recruiting class, including five-star Michael Mayer. Mayer has been great already this season, but he's no better than second-best at the position for the Irish right now. Redshirt sophomore Tommy Tremble, who emerged as a solid No. 2 behind second-round NFL Draft pick Cole Kmet last season, has been outstanding in two games in 2020 and was an obvious standout against the Bulls. He pulled in three passes for 60 yards, including a terrific contested catch along the sideline in which he got one foot down to pick up 27 yards. He also made a number of big blocks, including the lead block on a Chris Tyree touchdown run and a huge hit on a Jafar Armstrong reception that sprung the back for a big gain in the red zone. He's the total package and he and Mayer – not to mention Brock Wright and Kevin Bauman – make quite an intimidating pair at the position.
- South Florida isn't very good: This is really the biggest takeaway from today's matchup. It's difficult to really judge how the Irish played because this is a Bulls program that is just starting to get its feet wet under new coach Jeff Scott. Of course, Notre Dame can only the play team in front of it and it did an admirable job of putting the game away early and then keeping its foot on the gas until well into the second half, but this game doesn't really tell us a whole lot about Notre Dame's relative skill level in the ACC, especially with so many young players getting some time today. In Week 1, Notre Dame won ugly. This week the Irish "won pretty", though against a far inferior opponent. It's on to Wake Forest and the resumption of the ACC schedule next week.
Player of the Game: Jack Kiser
The 2018 Indiana Mr. Football made his first career start as a redshirt freshman and did not disappoint. Kiser made South Florida look largely like the Class A schools he terrorized as a star at Pioneer, racking up a team-high eight tackles, including two for loss and another one-on-one in the open field that prevented South Florida from getting a first down in Notre Dame territory. He added a quarterback hit for good measure. Kiser was the No. 3 "Buck" linebacker on the depth chart this week, but with top two Shayne Simon and Marist Liufau unavailable for unannounced reasons, Kiser stepped in and stepped up, securing the position.
Facts and Figures
Notre Dame has won 20 straight home games since losing to Georgia in 2017. It's the third-longest home winning streak for the Irish since Notre Dame Stadium opened in 1930 and only Clemson and Ohio State have longer active streaks. ... The Irish have also won 26 straight games against unranked opponents since a loss to Virginia Tech at the end of the 2016 season. ... Homestead graduate wide receiver Ben Skowronek did not play, continuing to nurse a hamstring injury suffered in Week 1. ... Also inactive were four starters (safety Kyle Hamilton, cornerback TaRiq Bracy, wide receiver Lawrence Keys III and Simon) and four backups (running back Jahmir Smith, quarterback Brendon Clark, Liufau and defensive end Ovie Oghoufo). Only Hamilton had a known injury coming into the game. ... Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees played quarterback for the Irish the last time they faced South Florida in 2011, throwing for 294 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. ... South Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. is the son of former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who led the program from 2005 to 2009 and took the Irish to two BCS bowl games. ... Ian Book's three first-half rushing touchdowns marked the first time in Notre Dame history a quarterback has had three scores on the ground in a half. Book finished 12 for 19 for 143 yards, plus the three rushing TDs. ... Notre Dame averaged 6.2 yards per carry, led by Flemister, who had 13 carries for 127 yards. It was his first career 100-yard performance. ... The Irish did not have a penalty until the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame opens its road schedule in Week 3 with a matchup in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at Wake Forest (0-1). The meeting at Truist Field, which was originally set to be played in Charlotte at the Carolina Panthers' Bank of America Stadium, will kick off at noon and will be broadcast on ABC. The Demon Deacons fell 37-13 to No. 1 Clemson in Week 1 and take on North Carolina State tonight. Notre Dame is 5-0 all-time against Wake, with all the matchups coming since 2011 and the most recent a 56-27 Irish victory in 2018, the game that was Book's first as the starter that season.