WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — No. 8 Notre Dame threw the Book at Wake Forest.
Ian Book rushed for three touchdowns and threw for two more in his first start of the season, leading the Fighting Irish past Wake Forest 56-27 on Saturday.
Book replaced Brandon Wimbush in the starting lineup and was 25 of 34 for 325 yards with touchdown passes covering 3 yards to Brock Wright and 7 yards to Chase Claypool, along with three short scoring runs.
“Every week, I’ve tried to prepare like I’m the starter, and when my name’s called, I need to go in there and play at my best and make sure the offense can succeed,” Book said.
He helped the Fighting Irish (4-0) more than double their previous season high for scoring and roll up a season-best 566 total yards, surpassing the previous high midway through the third quarter.
Before this one, Notre Dame hadn’t scored more than 24 in a game , and its wins over Michigan, Ball State and Vanderbilt came by a total of 20 points.
Coach Brian Kelly said he made the switch because he was concerned that the offense’s struggles were starting to weigh on the other parts of the team.
“I didn’t sleep great last night, because that’s a pretty big decision to make when you’re 3-0 and your quarterback that was leading your football team was 13-3 as a starter,” Kelly said. “But I had a lot of confidence in Ian and I thought our offense played to the level that it was capable of. That certainly showed itself today.”
Jafar Armstrong had touchdown runs of 1 and 30 yards, and Tony Jones Jr. added a short scoring run for the Irish, who will ride their best start since 2015 into next week’s showdown with No. 7 Stanford.
Matt Colburn had a 2-yard touchdown run and Nick Sciba kicked two field goals for Wake Forest (2-2), which has lost two straight. Freshman Sam Hartman was 12 of 24 for 110 yards before he exited after taking a hard hit midway through the third.
“Notre Dame outplayed us. They outcoached us. They outprepared us. They were just more ready to go than us today, and they showed it,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “The score’s probably closer than the game was.”
Notre Dame: So much for that quarterback controversy . It sure looks like the job belongs to Book, whose only previous start came last season in a rout of North Carolina and who led the rally that led to a victory over LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Kelly played it coy in the days before the game, saying both of his QBs would play. But as the points and yards kept piling up for the Irish, Wimbush never saw the field and never even took off his baseball cap.
“I came here to be the starter, and it’s up to the coaches, and they’ll play the best quarterback to win,” Book said. “We’re all one team and I’m not worried. I know they’ll make the right decision — whatever that is, both ways. We’re here to get wins.”
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons’ defense was exposed yet again. A group susceptible to the big play gave up another handful of them at the wrong times, a list led by Armstrong’s TD run and a 66-yard catch-and-run by Michael Young that set up another score. The continued inability to prevent explosive plays made it next to impossible to earn the program’s first victory against a top-10 opponent since 1946.
Wake Forest went up 3-0 on Sciba’s 30-yard field goal with 5:19 left in the first quarter. That marked the first time this season that Notre Dame trailed. The deficit lasted for all of 2 minutes, 13 seconds, before Armstrong broke off his long scoring run.
This was the Irish’s highest-scoring road game since a 59-26 rout of Stanford in 2003. . The last time Notre Dame had as many as 500 total yards was in its previous meeting with Wake Forest last November.
One chuckle-worthy sequence personified the day for the Demon Deacons. Ten members of the team came out for a first-quarter field goal — except Sciba was missing. He was still on the sideline warming up and didn’t appear to realize it was time to kick. With holder Dom Maggio waving him out, he hurried onto the field and promptly plunked the left upright with the kick.
Kendall Hinton was largely a nonfactor in his first game back for Wake Forest after serving a three-game suspension for violating unspecified team rules. The former starting quarterback lined up mostly at receiver and caught one pass for two yards. He played one snap at QB — when backup Jamie Newman’s helmet came off — and wound up running 23 yards for a touchdown.
Notre Dame: Returns home to face No. 7 Stanford on Saturday.
Wake Forest: Plays host to Rice on Saturday.