How about the Irish? Following a tough, physical loss on the road to Georgia, Notre Dame bounced back by defeating the Virginia Cavaliers in South Bend, Ind. 35-20. It was ALL about the Irish defense; Notre Dame's defensive linemen had eight sacks.
"We're excited about the win, but we still have work to do," Julian Okwara said, who had three of Notre Dame's eight sacks and caused a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. "I think we just had to hone in on what coach told us to do and just do our job."
"When you can pressure the quarterback with four and still play coverage, there is relatively no risk and that's what they were able to do," Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
For Virginia, QB Bryce Perkins gave the Irish all they could handle early. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Perkins was spectacular in the first half. Perkins completed 18 of 22 passes (82 percent) for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He was just 12 of 21 for 99 in the second half with two interceptions as the Irish defensive front dominated.
"I just wasn't aware of the guys coming off the edges so maybe I needed to deepen my drop or feel the pressure more," Perkins said."
Virginia came into the game ranking No. 1 with its 20 quarterback sacks and Notre Dame was 108th with four sacks total, none by their defensive ends. The Irish had eight sacks, 6 1/2 by its defensive ends.
Offensively, after a slow start, the Irish averaged 5.1 yards per carry on Saturday, thanks in large part to Tony Jones. He finished with 131 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. He also had two carries that went over 25 yards, which are the big plays the Irish offense has lacked at times this season.
Overall, this was not the most impressive performance by the Irish offense, largely because the defense stole the show in the second half. They finished with 343 yards, but a lot of those yards; it wasn't the most inspiring performance. Ian Book completed 17 of his 25 passes for only 165 yards, and he didn't do much with his legs statistically, rushing for 10 yards. Once again, Irish fans are left wanting more.
Bowling Green is on the clock.
Notre Dame reached the 900-win plateau for the second time with its victory. The Irish, who were stripped of 21 victories from the 2012 and 2013 seasons for academic misconduct, beat Miami University of Ohio 52-17 for what they thought was their 900th while appealing the initial NCAA verdict that later was not reversed. With this 900th victory, Notre Dame is one of eight schools at the plateau, led by Michigan's 957.