SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Ian Book and Miles Boykin, the heroes of Notre Dame’s Citrus Bowl victory on New Year’s Day, worked their magic once again and a stifling defensive line chipped in as the No. 8 Irish broke a three-game losing streak to No. 7 Stanford with a 38-17 victory Saturday night.
Book threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns, including an 8-yard TD to Boykin, who had career highs in receptions (11) and yardage (144).
“Our chemistry is coming along but he’s such a good player and I love throwing to him,” said Book, whose 55-yard touchdown pass to Boykin while replacing an ineffective Brandon Wimbush provided the Irish a 21-17 victory over LSU in Orlando last January.
Stanford coach David Shaw was impressed by Book, who hails from Northern California and was Notre Dame’s starting quarterback for the second straight week after replacing Wimbush again.
“(Notre Dame has) a quarterback right now that’s outstanding,” Shaw said. “He’s athletic enough to get himself out of trouble. Quarterbacks like this, if you don’t get them down on the ground, it’s gonna hurt you.”
Boykin’s touchdown reception gave the Irish a 31-17 lead over the Cardinal with 8:16 remaining. After Notre Dame’s Te’von Coney intercepted Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello, Book threw a 35-yard scoring pass to Alize Mack 14 seconds later to seal the victory.
Book’s other touchdown passes were a 6-yarder to tight end Nic Weishar in the first quarter and a 10-yarder to Chase Claypool just before halftime.
“A great win,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “I like the fact that we finished the game. That’s when you see a resolve in your team.”
The Irish (5-0) totaled 550 yards, including 272 yards on 55 carries. Senior Dexter Williams, playing in his first game of the season after missing the first four for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, rushed for a career-high 161 yards on 21 carries, the first a 45-yard touchdown that gave Notre Dame a 7-0 lead.
“I’m really proud of his growth and maturity,” Kelly said.
The Irish limited Stanford (4-1) to 229 yards.
Costello threw for just 174 yards and was hurried all night by Notre Dame’s front four, which got four sacks and two hurries from 6-foot-7, 305-pound senior defensive tackle Jerry Tillery.
Bryce Love, last year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up, scored on a 39-yard TD for Stanford, but finished with just 73 yards on 17 carries before limping to the locker room with just over 11 minutes remaining.
Stanford: After missing his first three passes of the game, Costello connected on his next nine before finishing with 130 first-half yards on 11-of-17 passing but was hurried by Notre Dame’s defensive front four in the second half. With Love also struggling on the ground, the Cardinal will have to address the blocking issues of their offensive line.
Notre Dame: The Irish came within one yard of having three players total 100 yards or more in the first half. Book was 12-of-14 passing for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the half. Eight of those first-half completions were to Boykin for 106 yards. Williams rushed for 99 yards on nine carries, including a 45-yard touchdown on his first carry of the season.
With Jafar Armstrong unavailable after suffering a knee infection during the week, the Notre Dame running attack would lose junior Tony Jones Jr. late in the third quarter with a leg injury. Jones finished with 40 yards on 10 carries.
That left much of the running responsibility to Williams.
“Dexter was very juiced up and brings a lot of emotion to the game,” Book said. “There couldn’t have been a better week for him to come back.”
Kelly said Armstrong will have to have surgery to clean up the infection and will miss a couple of weeks. Jones has an ankle sprain, and the Irish lost left guard Alex Bars with a knee injury that will need further examination.
The Notre Dame defensive line clearly dominated the Stanford offensive line, led by Tillery’s four sacks and two quarterback hurries.
Defensive end Khalid Kareem, who limped off early in the game, returned to finish with a quarterback sack and a hurry as Notre Dame had five sacks of Costello for minus-26 yards and four QB hurries. Another defensive end, Daelin Hayes, had three tackles and one pass broken up.
The Irish broke up eight Costello passes. Cornerback Julian Love had his 10th pass breakup of the season and is now Notre Dame’s career leader with 33, one more than Clarence Ellis (1969-71).