Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) looks to pass. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lead the Florida State Seminoles 17-14 at the half Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021.

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Twice tested, No. 12 Notre Dame gets next challenge vs. Purdue

After a pair of tense contests, No. 12 Notre Dame will try to find its footing against visiting Purdue on Saturday at South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame (2-0) is coming off a 32-29 win at home against Toledo. The Fighting Irish trailed late in the fourth quarter but escaped with the victory after Jack Coan fired an 18-yard touchdown pass to Michael Mayer with 1:09 remaining.

It was the second straight nail-biter for Notre Dame, which needed overtime to knock off Florida State in its season opener.

“I obviously didn’t do a very good job preparing them,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said after the narrow victory over Toledo. “I thought (our team) played with more intensity in the second half, but sometimes you don’t want the circumstances to have to dictate that they have to play with more intensity.”

Notre Dame’s next test will come against Purdue (2-0), which is coming off a 49-0 blowout win over Connecticut last week. The Boilermakers won their season opener 30-21 against Oregon State.

In the latest win, Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer completed 16 of 20 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns. He helped the Boilermakers build a 35-0 halftime lead.

Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm expects a tough challenge as his team looks to improve to 3-0.

“Notre Dame is a veteran football team,” Brohm said. “They’ve proven they can win at a high level. They play one of the toughest schedules in the country every year against great competition. …

“They’ve had to work for the last two wins, which actually from their standpoint really is a good thing because it gives them a chance to see the few things they need to work on to get better, but they found a way to win. That’s what winning football teams do.”

Coan leads Notre Dame’s attack on offense. He has thrown for six touchdowns and two interceptions while averaging 302.5 passing yards per game.

Mayer has been Coan’s top target, hauling in 16 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Kyren Williams leads the Fighting Irish ground game with 120 rushing yards and one score.

For Purdue, Plummer has six touchdown passes and zero interceptions. David Bell and Payne Durham each have three receiving TDs.

Purdue running back Zander Horvath will be sidelined for 4-8 weeks because of a broken fibula. His absence could lead to a greater workload for fellow running backs King Doerue and Dylan Downing.

This will be the first game between Notre Dame and Purdue since 2014. The in-state rivals have met 84 times, with Notre Dame holding a 56-26-2 edge in the all-time series.

Purdue will go for its first win over the Fighting Irish since 2007.

“I know our fans – I’ve heard it for the last six months – that they’re looking forward to this game and getting a chance to go up there and watch Purdue play at Notre Dame,” Brohm said. “I’m happy that we get that opportunity. Hopefully, we can take advantage of it.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Michael Mayer (87) scores in the fourth quarter against the Toledo Rockets at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 Notre Dame turns back Toledo upset bid with late TD pass

Jack Coan found Michael Mayer for an 18-yard touchdown with 1:09 remaining as No. 8 Notre Dame survived a wild closing stretch to edge visiting Toledo 32-29 on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

After a scoreless third quarter, the teams combined for 31 fourth-quarter points with the Fighting Irish (2-0) barely hanging on against the upset-minded Rockets (1-1).

Toledo’s Dequan Finn scored on a 26-yard touchdown run with 1:35 to play, putting the visitors ahead 29-24. He opted not to slide at the 1, which would have given Toledo an opportunity to run out most of the clock before a last-second field goal attempt.

Coan then connected with Kevin Austin for 34 yards to ignite the decisive drive before a pair of penalties set up Coan’s game-winning pass to Mayer up the middle of the field. Wide receiver Avery Davis found Kyren Williams for the ensuing two-point conversion.

Toledo never threatened on its final drive. Rockets quarterback Carter Bradley was sacked and fumbled to effectively end the game.

Coan finished 21 of 33 for 239 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Mayer contributed seven catches for 81 yards and two scores for the Fighting Irish, who were playing in front of their home fans for the first time in nearly two years.

Bradley (17 of 27 for 213 yards), Bryant Koback (21 carries, 122 yards, TD) and Devin Maddox (nine catches, 135 yards) were among the offensive stars for Toledo.

The Fighting Irish trailed 16-14 entering the fourth quarter before Jonathan Doerer’s 48-yard field goal put them in front 2 1/2 minutes into the period.

The Rockets punted on their next drive, giving the ball back to Notre Dame near midfield. On the next play, Tyler Buchner hit a wide-open Chris Tyree down the left sideline for a 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Now trailing 24-16, Toledo’s Koback took a shovel pass 8 yards to the end zone, but the two-point conversion pass failed. The Fighting Irish then squandered a chance to put away the game when Williams fumbled with 3 1/2 minutes to play.

Bradley and Isaiah Winstead hooked up for a pair of 15-yard completions on the ensuing drive before Finn sprinted to the end zone, giving the Rockets their final lead of the game.

–Field Level Media

Sep 5, 2021; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

After close call, No. 8 Irish come home to face Toledo

No. 8 Notre Dame is looking for a cleaner performance when it hosts Toledo on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

The Fighting Irish (1-0) are coming off a turbulent victory in their opening game against Florida State on Sunday night. Notre Dame blew an 18-point, fourth-quarter advantage but emerged with a 41-38 win in overtime.

Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said a film review of the game showed plenty of room for improvement.

“When you are up 38-20 on the road and you give that lead up, many teams do not get out of there with a victory,” Kelly said. “Our guys hung in there. We came up with the big stop when we needed it defensively. They just showed their mettle and grit.

“As I said (Sunday), I really like this group. We’ve got a lot to do, a lot of work to clean up.”

The next opportunity will come against Toledo (1-0), which posted a dominant 49-10 win over Norfolk State on Saturday. The Rockets shined on defense and special teams, notching two touchdowns off blocked punts.

This will be the first meeting between the programs.

Toledo is 9-17 against top-25 ranked teams in its history. The Rockets’ last win over a ranked opponent was in the 2015 Boca Raton Bowl, when it knocked off No. 24 Temple.

“We’re looking forward to going out, playing a great football team and giving it our best shot,” Toledo coach Jason Candle said.

Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan will try to build upon his impressive debut for the program. The graduate transfer completed 26 of 35 passes for 366 yards, four touchdowns and one interception against the Seminoles.

“(Coan) pushed the ball well down the field,” Kelly said. “I thought we protected darn well. (But) we’re going to (have to) run the ball a little better.”

Notre Dame notched only 65 rushing yards on 35 attempts. The team’s offensive line features several new starters, and freshman left tackle Blake Fisher left last week’s contest because of a knee injury.

Star running back Kyren Williams struggled, as did his teammates who tried to carry the ball. Williams, a preseason All-American, had 18 carries for 42 yards as part of an underwhelming performance.

Toledo relied upon two quarterbacks in its opening win. Carter Bradley completed 8 of 12 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, and teammate Dequan Finn completed 4 of 5 passes for 38 yards. Finn also had a 24-yard rushing TD.

Bryant Koback added 52 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground for Toledo.

Notre Dame cannot afford to overlook its opponent from the Mid-American Conference, Kelly said.

“We’re playing a really good team in Toledo,” Kelly said. “After watching their film, this is probably the finest MAC team that we’ve brought into the stadium since I’ve been here. So we’re going to have to be prepared, and we’re on a short week.”

–Field Level Media

Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis (13) looks to pass. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lead the Florida State Seminoles 17-14 at the half Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021.

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No. 9 Notre Dame edges Florida St. on FG in OT

Jonathan Doerer hit a 41-yard field goal in overtime Sunday night as No. 9 Notre Dame survived blowing an 18-point, fourth-quarter lead, edging Florida State 41-38 in Tallahassee in each team’s season opener.

The Seminoles missed a chance to take the lead when Ryan Fitzgerald hooked a 37-yard field goal wide left on their overtime possession. After three plays, Doerer calmly made the winning kick on 4th-and-8 after a Florida State timeout.

Florida State forced overtime when Fitzgerald hit a 43-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in regulation, his career long. Travis Jay intercepted Jack Coan’s Hail Mary pass at the Seminoles’ 11 as time expired.

Coan, a Wisconsin transfer, set a Fighting Irish record for a first-time starting quarterback with 366 yards on 26-of-35 passing.

Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton, playing his first game since a devastating knee injury three years ago while playing for Central Florida, helped force overtime after replacing Jordan Travis in the fourth quarter.

Milton was 5-of-7 for 48 yards, finishing a touchdown drive and leading the tying field-goal march. Travis hit 9-of-19 passes for 130 passes with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Notre Dame initiated scoring just 2:14 into the game when Coan found Michael Mayer on 4th-and-1 for a 41-yard touchdown pass.

After doing nothing on its first two possessions, Florida State equalized with one dynamic play – an 89-yard scoring run by Jashaun Corbin.

The Seminoles took their first lead with 10:05 left in the first half on a 2-yard run by Travis, but the Irish rallied to take the halftime lead. Doerer connected on a 48-yard field goal, followed by Coan’s 23-yard pass to Joe Wilkins that made it 17-14.

Florida State regained the advantage just 1:24 into the third quarter when Travis found Ja’Khi Douglas for a 60-yard scoring strike. But Notre Dame answered with three touchdowns in just over seven minutes.

Coan found Kevin Austin and Kyren Williams for 37 and 6-yard scores, respectively, and Chris Tyree punched in from the 1 with 4:37 left for a 38-20 Notre Dame lead.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris (22) runs against Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Drew White (40) in the third quarter  during the Rose Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Tide crush No. 4 Irish to reach CFP final

Mac Jones threw four touchdown passes, three to DeVonta Smith, as top-ranked Alabama rolled to a 31-14 victory over fourth-ranked Notre Dame on Friday in the College Football Playoff semifinal contest at Arlington, Texas.

The dominating performance in the Rose Bowl pushed the Crimson Tide (12-0) into the CFP title game for the fifth time in the system’s seven seasons. Alabama, which won titles in 2015 and 2017, will face either second-seeded Clemson or third-seeded Ohio State in the title game on Jan. 11.

Jones completed 25 of 30 passes for 297 yards, and fellow Heisman Trophy finalist Smith caught seven passes for 130 yards. Najee Harris added 155 scrimmage yards (125 rushing, 30 receiving), and Jahleel Billingsley caught a touchdown pass for the Crimson Tide.

Ian Book rushed for a touchdown and completed 27 of 39 passes for 229 yards and one interception for the Fighting Irish (10-2). Kyren Williams rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown for Notre Dame, which lost in the semis for the second time in the past three seasons.

The Rose Bowl was moved from Pasadena to the Dallas area due to California’s COVID-19 protocols.

The quick-strike Alabama offense required just 7:08 of possession time to score touchdowns each of the first three times it had the ball.

The Crimson Tide traveled 79 yards on seven plays in 2:36 on its first drive, with Smith catching a short pass from Jones and traveling 26 yards down the left sideline for the score.

Harris set up the second touchdown with a 53-yard run in which he hurdled over Notre Dame’s Nick McCloud near the right sideline and raced to the Notre Dame 12-yard line. Jones connected with Billingsley on the next play to cap a five-play, 97-yard drive that took 2:11.

The Irish played keep-away for 8:03 on their next drive when they moved 75 yards on 15 plays. Williams scored on a 1-yard keeper on fourth down to pull Notre Dame within 14-7 with 11:16 left in the half.

Alabama answered quickly and Jones capped a six-play, 84-yard drive with a 34-yard scoring strike to Smith. The possession lasted 2:21 as the Crimson Tide took a 21-7 advantage with 8:49 remaining.

Book tried to rally Notre Dame in the third quarter but was intercepted by Christian Harris with 7:27 left. Alabama cashed in the takeaway with a five-play, 62-yard drive that took 2:29. Jones again threw a touchdown pass to Smith, this one a 7-yarder with 4:58 left in the stanza.

Book was shaken up and briefly left the game with 3:39 remaining in the quarter, missing two offensive plays, after being sacked by Alabama’s Christian Barmore.

He returned when Notre Dame next had the ball with 12:45 remaining in the game, right after Will Reichard booted a 41-yard field goal to push the Crimson Tide’s lead to 31-7.

Book scored on a 1-yard run with 56 seconds left to cap the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2020; Charlotte, NC, USA; Clemson safety Nolan Turner (24) and cornerback Mario Goodrich (31) tackle Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams (23) during the first quarter of the ACC Championship game  at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 Clemson routs No. 2 Notre Dame to win ACC title

The rematch turned into a mismatch.

Trevor Lawrence passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a third score as No. 3 Clemson claimed its sixth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title on Saturday with a 34-10 romp against No. 2 Notre Dame.

Clemson improved to 10-1 and became just the third team in FBS history two win 10 or more games for 10 consecutive seasons. Notre Dame (10-1), playing in the first conference championship game in program history, suffered its first loss of the season.

The Tigers essentially wrapped up a berth into the College Football Playoff, giving Clemson a chance to win its third national title in five years. Given Clemson’s margin of victory, Notre Dame’s CFP hopes may be in question heading into Selection Sunday.

The Tigers’ victory avenged a 47-40 defeat in double-overtime at Notre Dame on Nov. 7, a game in which Lawrence was unavailable while recovering from COVID-19.

On Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., Lawrence showed what a difference maker he is for the Tigers while also making a final statement for Heisman Trophy consideration.

Lawrence, who improved to 34-1 as Clemson’s starting quarterback over the past three seasons, was named the game’s most valuable player after going 25-of-36 passing and rushing for 90 yards on 14 carries. His 412 total yards are the second-most in ACC Championship Game history, trailing only the 420 yards amassed by former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the 2015 title game.

Running back Travis Etienne, who was held to a career-low 28 yards rushing in the Tigers’ loss at Notre Dame, bounced back in a big way, rushing for 124 yards on 10 carries and scoring on a 44-yard run.

Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers had eight receptions for 121 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown that ranks as the second-longest in ACC Championship Game history.

Notre Dame opened the scoring with an ACC title game-record 51-yard field goal by Jonathan Doerer, but Doerer missed a 24-yard attempt that bounced off the left upright on the Fighting Irish’s ensuing possession.

Clemson then took command, scoring on each of its next four possessions to forge a 24-3 halftime lead. After his touchdown pass to Rodgers, Lawrence threw a 33-yard scoring pass to E.J. Williams, B.T. Potter kicked a 27-yard field goal and Etienne added his long score.

Clemson’s defense also came through as top linebacker James Skalski and top defensive lineman Tyler Davis — both of whom missed the first Notre Dame game — returned from injury and turned in solid performances.

Skalski had five tackles, including a sack and a quarterback hurry, while Davis had four tackles, including 1 1/2 of the Tigers’ 10 tackles for loss.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book went 20-of-28 passing for 219 yards but was sacked six times. Running back Kyren Williams, who had 140 yards and three touchdowns in the earlier win against Clemson, was held to 50 yards on 15 attempts.

Clemson has outscored its last four ACC Championship Game opponents 176-40.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney signals to his players in the second quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Swinney disputes claim that ACC protecting Tigers, Irish

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney dismissed comments from Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey that criticized the Atlantic Coast Conference for not making Swinney’s Tigers and Notre Dame play makeup games on Saturday, an open date for each team.

The Fighting Irish (10-0) sit second and the Tigers (9-1) are third in the College Football Playoff poll, so the open date makes sure neither team sustains a loss that could damage their ranking, as they head into the ACC championship game on Dec. 19.

“If the ACC was trying to really protect Clemson and Notre Dame, why would we even play a game this week? I mean, if six wins can get you in the playoff, shouldn’t nine get you there? Shouldn’t 10 get you there?”

The reference to six wins appears aimed at Ohio State, which is 5-0 and needed a waiver from its conference to be allowed to play in the Big Ten title game because it had not played six games, which was mandated before the start of the season.

The SEC, meanwhile, is on track to have 69 of its 70 conference games played, a pace not matched by other conferences.

“Playing games matters. The Playoff selection committee has said that,” Sankey said Saturday, adding that his teams “are ready to play and have these opportunities. I think playing games matters. Candidly, you take the Texas A&M-Florida game. We added that to our schedule when we went from eight conference games to 10. You take that game away and Florida is undefeated and Texas A&M only has the loss at Alabama and it’s a different world. So the question is – are we going to be rewarded for playing games or rewarded for not playing games?”

Clemson had a game postponed on Nov. 21 at Florida State, when the Tigers were already in Tallahassee and getting ready to play when it was announced that a backup defensive lineman for Clemson had tested positive for COVID-19 and traveled with the team.

Swinney and others accused Florida State of using the announcement as a reason not to play the game.

Notre Dame had a postponement on Sept. 19 at Wake Forest.

“I would’ve loved to play this past weekend,” Swinney said. “I had no problem with that. I didn’t make the decision. We wanted to play when we were down in Tallahassee and were about to get on a bus and go play. Things happen.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book (12) runs as Syracuse Orange wide receiver Sharod Johnson (8) pursues in the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Book (5 TDs) fuels No. 2 Notre Dame in rout of Syracuse

Ian Book recorded five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) to help No. 2 Notre Dame pull away for a 45-21 win over visiting Syracuse on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Ind.

Book completed 24 of 37 passes for 285 yards. Wide receiver Javon McKinley caught all three of his touchdown throws to highlight his seven-catch, 111-yard performance.

Notre Dame (10-0, 9-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) completed a perfect regular season and will head to the ACC championship game scheduled for Dec. 19.

Rex Culpepper completed 18 of 29 passes for 185 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Orange. Syracuse (1-10, 1-9) lost its eighth game in a row and gave up 30-plus points for the seventh time during that skid.

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the season following his 20-carry, 110-yard performance.

The Fighting Irish got off to a slow start, falling behind 7-3 early in the second quarter following an 18-yard touchdown pass from Culpepper to Anthony Queeley. The play capped a 10-play, 62-yard drive to give Syracuse brief hope for an upset.

Notre Dame regrouped late in the first half, reeling off three touchdowns in the final 3:18 to build a 24-7 advantage.

Book started the scoring binge with a 28-yard rushing touchdown. He dropped back in the pocket and scanned the field before deciding to keep the ball for a sprint down the right sideline and plunging across the goal line.

The Fighting Irish signal-caller followed his rushing touchdown with a pair of passing scores to McKinley. The two connected for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:30 left in the first half and a 28-yard touchdown with six seconds remaining.

Syracuse struck first after halftime on a 40-yard touchdown run by Sean Tucker to trim the deficit to 24-14.

Notre Dame answered with a 21-0 run to seize a 45-14 lead.

Book kept the ball again for a 17-yard rushing score with 6:32 to go in the third quarter. He then found McKinley for a third time — this one for a 26-yard score — with 1:07 remaining in the frame.

Chris Tyree punctuated Notre Dame’s high-scoring day with a 94-yard rushing touchdown with 6:25 to go in the fourth quarter.

Syracuse capped the scoring with an 80-yard touchdown from Cooper Lutz with 5:33 to go.

–Field Level Media