2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

Digital Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: 2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

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Page 133 of 163

132 ✦ BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY DAVID MCKINNEY J ust two years removed from one of the worst seasons in program history that saw Notre Dame go 4-8 and fire its de- fensive coordinator after four games, the 2018 Fighting Irish came up just short of a berth in the national championship game. Following a 12-0 regular season, Notre Dame was one of four teams selected to the fifth College Football Playoff, marking the program's first invitation to the event. A timeline of Notre Dame's special cam- paign follows. August 3 — For the fifth straight year, Notre Dame begins preseason camp at Culver Academies in Culver, Ind. 4 — ESPN announces that College GameDay will head to South Bend for the season opener against Michigan. 20 — Notre Dame is ranked No. 12 in the pre- season Associated Press poll. 21 — Senior offensive guard Alex Bars, senior center Sam Mustipher and junior cornerback Julian Love are chosen to the AP's Preseason All-America second team. 23 — Head coach Brian Kelly names senior Brandon Wimbush as the starting quarterback against Michigan. 30 — Kelly announces that senior cornerback Shaun Crawford will miss the entire 2018 season because of a torn ACL suffered in practice. September 1 — No. 12 Notre Dame opens with a 24-17 win over No. 14 Michigan in South Bend, and Wimbush receives the game ball. However, sophomore defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa suffers a broken foot that sidelines him for the remainder of the regular season. 4 — Notre Dame moves up to No. 8 in the AP poll. 8 — No. 8 Notre Dame defeats Ball State 24-16. Wimbush struggles, completing 17 of 31 passes for 297 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. 15 — No. 8 Notre Dame takes a 16-3 lead over Vanderbilt into halftime, but struggles to close out the game, narrowly escaping an upset, 22-17. Wim- bush again is subpar, connecting on 13 of 23 passes for 122 yards with no touchdowns. Backup sopho- more quarterback Ian Book enters the game and goes 3-of-3 passing with a touchdown. 20 — Kelly says both Wimbush and Book will play at Wake Forest. 22 — Book gets the start at Wake Forest and com- pletes 25 of 34 passes for 325 yards with two touch- downs in a 56-27 romp. Wimbush does not play. 27 — Kelly reiterates that both quarterbacks are prepared to play against No. 7 Stanford. 28 — News breaks that sophomore running back Jafar Armstrong will miss the Stanford game due to a knee injury. 29 — Book starts again and leads a 38-17 victory over No. 7 Stanford while tossing four touchdown passes. Senior running back Dexter Williams returns from a four-game suspension and rushes for 161 yards and a touchdown — 45 on his first attempt — on 21 carries. Fifth-year senior guard and captain Alex Bars tears his ACL and is lost for the season. 30 — Notre Dame moves up to No. 6 in the AP poll. October 6 — Notre Dame wins 45-23 at No. 24 Virginia Tech behind three touchdowns from Williams, high- lighted by a 97-yard run that began a string of 21 unanswered points by the Irish. 7 — At 6-0, Notre Dame moves up to No. 5 in the AP poll. 13 — Notre Dame rallies from a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Pitt 19-14. Book connects with junior wide receiver Miles Boykin from 35 yards out with 5:43 to go for the game-winning touchdown. 14 — At 7-0, Notre Dame elevates to No. 4 in the AP poll. 27 —Notre Dame jumps out to a 27-0 lead at halftime over Navy and wins 44-22 to move to 8-0. Book completes 27 of 33 passes for 330 yards with two scores. Williams rushes for 142 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. 31 — At 8-0, the Fighting Irish are No. 4 in the first edition of the 2018 College Football Playoff rank- ings. No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 LSU comprise the rest of the field. November 3 — No. 4 Notre Dame travels to Northwestern and wins 31-21 to move to 9-0. Book suffers an "upper body injury" and is questionable for the upcoming game against Florida State. 6 — Notre Dame upgrades to No. 3 in the Col- lege Football Playoff rankings. No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson and No. 4 Michigan round out the field. 8 — Kelly tells the media that Book is day to day and Wimbush has received the bulk of the work in practice leading up to the Florida State game. 10 — With Book sidelined, Wimbush steps in and leads No. 3 Notre Dame to a 42-13 win over Florida Junior Ian Book became the starter at quarterback in week four, and led the Irish to eight straight wins while completing 214 of 314 passes for 2,628 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 280 yards and four scores. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL 2018 Year In Review

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