Notre Dame padded its statistics without breaking a sweat as the Irish outclassed Bowling Green by 52-0 on Saturday. Their 573 yards of offense included six touchdown passes; five from Ian Book in the first half and one after intermission by Phil Jurkovec, his career first. Meanwhile, the defense held the Falcons to 228 total yards. Bowling Green’s only serious scoring threat was a field goal attempt that Julian Okwara swatted down.
Both teams were able to clear the benches in the one-sided affair, although Brian Kelly stayed with his first team offense for 40 minutes. Book hit three easy scoring passes to wide open receivers in the first quarter, and any doubt regarding the outcome was erased. The senior continued to work on staying in the pocket to find his receivers, and the lack of a Falcon pass rush made this a relatively successful exercise.
Nine Notre Dame players ran the ball and nine caught passes. C’Bo Flemister had the final Irish touchdown of the day and Tony Jones, Jr. had a second consecutive 100-yard rushing effort. Book was 21 of 27 for 261 yards and Jurkovec was 5 of 7 for 79 yards.
There were no noteworthy game-changing plays or dramatic moments as the game ran downhill from the start. The best news is the hosts did not report any significant injuries as they prepare for upcoming games with traditional rivals. Chase Claypool, who had two touchdown receptions, showed no ill effects from an ankle sprain he suffered in last week’s game.
Let’s review the answers to our pregame questions.
Can VanGorder’s defense cause any discomfort for the Irish attack? Only on the first series when the Irish elicited audible groans with two passes behind the line of scrimmage and a two-yard quarterback scramble.
How well will the Irish linebackers and secondary defend Wade’s short passing game? Wade was given an early hook in favor of Grant Loy, who managed to hit tight end Quintin Morris ten times for 92 yards when he wasn’t running for his life. The coverage was good and Notre Dame allowed only one play over 20 yards.
Can Notre Dame turn in a mistake-free performance? Yes. There were no turnovers and just one penalty for a false start. That’s progress!
Will the Irish defense score more points than the offense? Not today, but a shutout speaks for itself.
Can Jurkovec give Kelly a viable option to consider at the QB position? Kelly kept Book in the game far too long and did not give Jurkovec any snaps with the starting line or receivers. Still, Jurkovec performed well and flashed his skills as a runner and passer.
Will the Notre Dame special teams show signs of life? Chris Finke has one nice punt return, Okwara blocked a Bowling Green field goal attempt, and Jonathan Doerer hit a short three-pointer for the Irish. That’s more than we usually get.
How well will the NBC camera crew hide the empty seats? They didn’t pan the crowd up close, but the long range shots gave the appearance of a decent turnout. The few faces I did make out were students or people who looked like relatives of Jack Swarbrick.
The 4-1 Irish can now turn their attention to the playoff chase and a strong performance against the visiting USC Trojans next week. The Trojans had a bye this week while Notre Dame’s glorified scrimmage was every bit the success it was supposed to be.
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