South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Notre Dame crushed Wake Forest, 38-0,
Saturday afternoon, then got the help it needed later that night.
The third-ranked Fighting Irish (11-0) improved to 11-0 for the first time
since 1989 and remain the only undefeated team eligible to play for the
national title after Kansas State and Oregon suffered their first losses.
Kansas State, the top-ranked team in the latest BCS poll, was handed a 52-24
loss by Baylor, while second-ranked Oregon dropped a 17-14 overtime decision
The outcomes mean Notre Dame will surely jump from its No. 3 ranking and
control its destiny in reaching its first-ever BCS title game -- the only
obstacle left being next week's matchup at USC.
Everett Golson threw for a career-high 346 yards with three touchdowns for
Notre Dame, which swept its six-game home slate as well.
Cierre Wood amassed 150 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, while T.J. Jones
and Tyler Eifert each caught a touchdown pass and added 97 and 85 receiving
yards, respectively, on six grabs apiece.
Notre Dame, already the top-ranked scoring defense in the nation coming in,
pitched its first shutout since a 35-0 victory over Nevada on Sept. 5, 2009
and faces its final regular season test next Saturday at USC.
"We saved our best for the last home game," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly
said. "The goal for all of us was to be undefeated this year at home. ... We
feel really good about the accomplishment."
Wake Forest (5-6), blanked for the second time this season, went in the hole,
21-0, in the first quarter and never recovered, getting outgained, 584-209.
Tanner Price completed 22-of-33 passes for 153 yards in the loss.
"This was just a day where Notre Dame was too much for us to handle," Wake
Forest head coach Jim Grobe said.
Notre Dame's seniors did not disappoint in their final home game. Theo Riddick
kept the opening drive alive by taking a swing pass 24 yards on 3rd-and-11
from the 8-yard line. On the next snap, Wood, a fellow senior, took an option
pitch and sprinted 68 yards for a touchdown.
Senior linebacker Carlo Calabrese put a big hit on Josh Harris and forced a
fumble on Wake Forest's first possession, and the Irish converted the turnover
at midfield into a score, as Eifert made a tough 2-yard grab in the end zone.
John Goodman, also making his final home appearance, made an acrobatic catch
on Golson's underthrown 50-yard bomb for yet another score with 4:28 remaining
in the opening quarter.
Golson was intercepted early in the second quarter, but later in the half
found Jones behind the secondary for a 34-yard TD.
Eifert, who has one year left of eligibility but is expected to declare for
the NFL Draft, caught a 38-yard pass to set up Kyle Brindza's 25-yard field
goal just before the break.
George Atkinson III capped a 9-play, 80-yard drive with 3:30 left in the third
quarter, and the Irish were able to honor their seniors in the final frame.
Kelly subbed out a trio of indelible defensive players early on, including
Kapron Lewis-Moore, Zeke Motta and Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te'o,
who helped douse Kelly in Gatorade in the closing seconds.
"That was our way of showing our appreciation for our head coach," Te'o said.
"I'm just very lucky to play for him."
The Irish posted their first undefeated home schedule since 1998 and 26th at
Notre Dame Stadium ... Notre Dame has opened a season 11-0 four times in its
125-year history ... Eifert broke Ken MacAfee's 35-year school record for most
career receptions by a tight end. He has 130 career catches for 1,710 yards --
49 yards less than MacAfee ... Golson completed 20-of-30 passes ... Wake
Forest will try to become bowl eligible for the fifth time in seven seasons
next Saturday against Vanderbilt.
The Sports Network