SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Kyren Williams ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns and safety Shaun Crawford helped thwart a potential Florida State rally with a goal-line interception in No. 5 Notre Dame’s 42-26 victory Saturday night.
Williams fumbled at his own 32 on the second play from scrimmage, then riddled Florida State the rest of the way, picking up 130 yards and both his TDs by halftime as the Fighting Irish (3-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) took a 35-20 lead.
Ian Book completed 16 of 25 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 58 yards and another score for ND.
With Notre Dame leading 42-26, the Seminoles (1-3, 0-3) drove 73 yards to the Irish 5, but Crawford picked off Jordan Travis’ pass with 8:21 left.
“First and foremost, winning is hard,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, whose team was playing after two idle weeks, one of them due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team.
“Just to be here talking about a victory is really satisfying given the fact that just about 10 days ago we had 36 guys that were unavailable to us,” Kelly said. “In short order, to prepare our team and have our guys be selfless and take care of themselves and put themselves in position to win a football game today, I couldn’t be more proud of our group.”
The Irish were too powerful despite a solid performance by Travis for the Seminoles.
Making his first start after shining in relief last week against Jacksonville State, Travis hit 13 of 24 passes for 204 yards and led Florida State in rushing with 96 yards on 19 keepers, even with a pair of sacks. He threw a TD pass and ran for a score.
“We’re all disappointed,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “You invest so much time and effort into a game to win that contest. We didn’t do that and we didn’t do (things) consistently enough, even with some bright spots throughout the course.”
Florida State’s Tamorrion Terry caught seven passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Irish wideout Javon McKinley had five receptions for 107 yards, while freshman Chris Tyree joined Williams in surpassing 100 on the ground, closing at 103 on 11 carries with a TD.
Florida State: The Seminoles, who gave up 52 points two weeks ago at Miami, looked overwhelmed at times on defense. Not only did the Irish offensive line have no trouble knocking Florida State off the ball — little surprise given Notre Dame’s ranking as the nation’s best unit — but Seminoles linebackers other than Amari Gainer often were unable to step up and close gaps. Notre Dame had 240 rushing yards by halftime on 20 attempts.
Notre Dame: The Irish offense was often lethal, especially once it stopped hurting its own cause. Norte Dame had five touchdowns and 365 yards in the first half and finished with 554 yards. The damage could’ve been worse if not for Williams’ fumble and a special teams turnover, those leading to 10 Seminoles points in the first quarter for a 17-14 FSU lead.
The Irish, given No. 4 Florida’s loss at No. 21 Texas A&M earlier in the day, stand poised to move up to that fourth slot, although they are also the lone club in the current top five yet to face a ranked opponent.
Kelly presented the game balls to athletic trainer Rob Hunt and team physician Matt Leiszler.
“We couldn’t have been out here today without their extraordinary efforts to get our football team safe and healthy,” Kelly said.
After Notre Dame had 25 players in isolation with positive tests and 14 others in quarantine due to contact tracing on Sept. 28, just two players of note — starting defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and linebacker Jack Kiser — were missing Saturday.
It was not confirmed that they were necessarily out due to the coronavirus.
Standout cornerback Asante Samuels’ first-quarter fumble recovery for the Seminoles was his fifth takeaway of the season, giving him at least one in each of Florida State’s first four games.
That count includes three interceptions, which led the nation entering the day.
Florida State faces its second straight Top 10 opponent when No. 8 North Carolina visits Doak Campbell Stadium on Oct. 17.
Notre Dame is home for the fourth straight game to start the season when Louisville visits Oct. 17.