Notre Dame exploded for 28 first quarter points and built a 45-14 halftime cushion before coasting to a 52-17 victory against Mid-American Conference foe Miami (Ohio). The victory improved the No. 22-ranked Fighting Irish to 4-1 while the RedHawks fell to 2-3.
It was the 900th all-time win for Notre Dame, which joins them with Michigan as the only two schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision to achieve that milestone.
Junior running back Josh Adams romped for 73- and 59-yard touchdowns in the first quarter and was easily on pace to break Julius Jones’ school record 262-yard rushing performance at Pitt in 2003, but a tweak of an ankle later in the same quarter kept him on the sidelines the remainder of the game as a precaution.
Junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush tossed a career high three touchdown passes to three different receivers, but the passing game reverted to inconsistency as he finished 7 of 18 through the air for 119 yards, while also adding 36 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.
For the second straight game, Notre Dame did not commit a turnover while forcing two by Miami that resulted in 14 points.
FIRST QUARTER: Notre Dame, 28, Miami (Ohio) 7
Top Moment(s): Take a pick with Adams. On the second play of the game Adams broke through the middle for a 73-yard touchdown just 25 seconds into the contest. With 6:06 left, he got loose on a 59-yard scamper to expand the lead to 21-7.
Top Performers: Adams had eight carries for 159 yards and the two long touchdowns before suffering the twist of the ankle late in the quarter, although he was able to walk off on his own power and remained on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, the Notre Dame defense created short fields for the second and fourth touchdowns by the Irish on 36- and 30-yard drives.
Senior linebacker Greer Martini set up Notre Dame’s second touchdown with his first career interception that he returned 42 yards to Miami’s 36. That led to Wimbush’s one yard touchdown run.
Later, junior nose tackle Jerry Tillery forced a fumbled by Miami quarterback Gus Ragland that senior end Jay Hayes recovered at the 30. That led to sophomore wideout Chase Claypool’s first career touchdown on a seven-yard fade from Wimbush with 38 seconds remaining for the 28-7 advantage.
Stats: The Irish out-gained the RedHawks 186-89 in total yards, most notably 158 to minus-9 on the ground.
Items: After falling behind 14-0, Miami scored on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Ragland to James Gardner on third-and-10 with 7:59 left. Both teams had three tackles for loss. Sophomore receiver Kevin Stepherson made his first appearance after sitting out the first four games for a reported suspension.
SECOND QUARTER: Notre Dame 45, Miami (Ohio) 14
Top Moment: Notre Dame took possession at its 19 with a 38-14 lead and 2:19 left and lost junior running back Tony Jones Jr. to what appeared to be a concussion on the second play on a helmet-to-helmet hit that was not called as an infraction. But after converting a third-and-four, Wimbush found junior Miles Boykin on the deep post for a 54-yard touchdown with only 37 seconds left.
Top Performer: With Notre Dame’s top three running backs all sidelined because of injuries, Wimbush was called on to carry the load with his passing. During the second quarter, he completed 4-of-7 for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried four times in the quarter for 15 yards.
Stats: The 45 first-half points were the most in head coach Brian Kelly’s eight seasons, eclipsing the 42 versus Air Force on Oct. 8, 2011. It also was the most since tallying 49 — the modern school record — at Pitt on Nov. 9, 1968, a 56-7 win.
Items: During a 57-yard touchdown drive that made it 35-7, Wimbush found junior receiver Equanimeous St. Brown for 11,17 and 14-yard gains, the latter for the score at the 12:50 mark.
Gardner scored his second touchdown, despite strong coverage again from senior cornerback Nick Watkins, on a 14-yard fade to cut the deficit to 35-14 with 10:09 left until halftime.
With the score 35-14, Notre Dame’s Jones Jr. rambled for 32 yards on a fake punt when the Irish faced fourth-and-three from his 37. That set up a 43-yard field goal by junior kicker Justin Yoon with 6:09 remaining.
Miami had eight penalties in the first half for 75 yards.
THIRD QUARTER: Notre Dame 45, Miami (Ohio) 17
Top Moment: On the opening series, Miami drove to Notre Dame’s 29, but on third-and-five sophomore cornerback Julian Love broke up a pass into the end zone and then on fourth down an Alonzo Smith sweep was stopped for no gain by senior linebackers Drue Tranquill and Nyles Morgan.
Top Performer: Although the Irish defense bent, it did not break deeper inside its own territory. In addition to the stop on the fourth down in the first series, it also stopped the RedHawks on fourth-and-six from the Irish 22 on the final play of the quarter.
Stats: Miami out-gained the Fighting Irish 139 yards to 28 in total offense during the third quarter but had only three points to show for it.
Items: With 6:40 left, Miami kicker Sam Sloman booted a 38-yard field goal to reduce Notre Dame’s lead to 45-17.
Yoon’s streak of six straight field goals made ended when his 44-yard attempt with 4:26 caromed off the left upright.
FOURTH QUARTER: Notre Dame 52, Miami (Ohio) 17
Top Moment: On third-and-11 from the Irish 12, Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Ian Book launched a ball almost 60 yards in the air that a double-covered junior Chris Finke stretched out for to complete a 48-yard play. That set up a shifty 26-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Deon McIntosh with 8:10 remaining.
Top Performer: Book completed three of his five pass attempts for 51 yards and carried three times for 37 yards. McIntosh’s eight carries netted 39 yards, highlighted by the touchdown
Stats: Notre Dame finished with 503 yards total offense, 333 rushing and 170 passing. Miami totaled 377 yards, 262 through the air and 115 on the ground.
Items: Book played most of the fourth quarter before getting replaced by senior Montgomery VanGorder with 4:26 left.
Miami “won” the time of possession 35:33-24-27 but could not overcome Notre Dame’s huge plays.