Notre Dame capped off a 6-0 home record on Saturday afternoon with a 40-7 win over Boston College. It wasn’t always pretty, but ultimately, the Irish did what they should do to Boston College every time they face them – beat them into submission. This game was like Boston College’s Super Bowl, and yet Notre Dame was still able to beat them by 33 points and empty their benches to give all of their seniors a proper sendoff. Week’s like this make it easy to find five things I liked.
1. Ian Book’s sideline laser to Cole Kmet
We’ve seen Ian Book make some throws the last couple of weeks that we hadn’t seen him make before. Last week it was his 70-yard bomb to Braden Lenzy that had 50+ air yards to it. This week it was a sideline dart to Cole Kmet in the first quarter for a 26-yard pickup.
Ian Book extends the play and fires a bullet to Cole Kmet. That's an eight-yard pickup for the tight end.
*Book has completed seven of his first nine passes for 85 yards. pic.twitter.com/Rz1kTtzCbL
— Andy Backstrom (@andybackstrom) November 23, 2019
What makes this throw so impressive is that Book buys time in the pocket, scrambles right, and then fires an absolute laser to Kmet on the sideline for the 26-yard gain. Book just snapped it off. He releases it around the 20, and the ball travels 30+ yards on a rope. It’s the kind of throw we’ve been waiting to see from him that he is starting to make.
On the day Book was 26 of 40 for 239 yards with another three touchdowns and no interceptions. If he throws one touchdown against Stanford, he’ll reach 30 for the year – 14 of which have come in the last four games.
2. Ade Ogundeji’s 2nd sack of the game
Boston College had a chance to get back in this game in the second half because Notre Dame was letting the hang around. With the Irish up just 16-7, Boston College faced a 2nd and 10 deep in their own territory. BC quarterback Dennis Grosel dropped back and had a tight end running down the seam wide open. He didn’t have time to get the ball off, though, because of the pressure applied by Ogundeji. Now, that play might not have resulted in a touchdown, but it would have been a huge gain if Grosel has time to get the ball off.
Instead of setting up a scoring opportunity, though, it set up a 3rd and 12, and the Eagles punted the ball away a play later. On the day, Ogundeji had two sacks and six tackles overall – three of which resulted in lost yardage. It gave Notre Dame fans a glimpse of the hopeful future at SDE next year. While Ogundeji has a 5th year available, he reportedly has not yet decided on coming back on or not just yet. If he does, he will give Notre Dame potentially very little drop off from Khalid Kareem in 2020.
3. Kyle Hamilton’s team-leading 4th interception of the year
Raise your hand if thought Kyle Hamilton was going to lead the team in interceptions this year (only Greg should be raising his hand right now). With another interception on Saturday, Hamilton now has four on the season – tied for the most interceptions by any freshman in the country.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) November 23, 2019
This is a perfect example of the ball just finding Hamilton – it catches him almost more than he catches it. He had some tough moments in the running game where 250 lbs running back AJ Dillon reminded us that he is just a freshman after all. Still, by the end of the game, he reminded us all why he most likely will never enjoy a Senior Day of his own in Notre Dame Stadium – he’s too good to play four years of college football.
In the summer, we heard about how Hamilton was intercepting passes every day. We’ve seen those same ball-hawking skills on display all fall long.
4. Sending a special senior class out winners for the 17th time in a row at Notre Dame Stadium
This year’s senior class were freshmen on that trainwreck 4-8 season in 2016. As a group, they helped transform the culture of a program that is on the doorstep of recording its third consecutive 10-win season, including last year’s run to the playoffs. It’s a special group that has experienced the highs and lows of being football players at Notre Dame.
Here are just a few of the more interesting subplots within this year’s senior class (including 5th years).
- Asmar Bilal – His transformation this fall has been incredible. He’s got a legit chance for an NFL future after we all wrote him off in August
- Khalid Kareem – He got banged up a few times again this weekend, but he always fights through it and makes big plays
- Jalen Elliott – Everyone wrote him off after 2017, but he bounced back in 2018 and served as a captain this year
- Chris Finke – Had a rough start to his final season this year, but has bounced back the last four weeks. 228 of his 410 yards and 3 of his 4 touchdowns this year have come the last four games.
- Chase Claypool – It took him longer than most hoped to unlock his potential, but it’s been on full display this season. HE caught his 10th touchdown of the season on Saturday and had an uncharacteristic drop that would have given him two.
Unfortunately, Julian Okwara was not able to fully experience Senior Day with his classmates given his injury. Despite a down year, Okwara embodies the spirit of this year’s senior class to a tee.
In the three seasons since that disaster of 2016, Notre Dame is 18-1 inside Notre Dame Stadium, with the lone loss being that one-point defeat at the hands of Georgia in week two of 2017. Since then, it’s been 17 in a row inside the House that Rockne built. That streak will be put to the test in 2020 with Clemson visiting in November, but for now, let’s all enjoy Notre Dame asserting some dominance on their home field again.
Speaking of seniors, it will be interesting to see who all returns in 2020 for Notre Dame among the players with eligibility. We know Daelin Hayes will be back, he announced as much already. Ogundeji is reportedly not decided yet, though. Then there is Tommy Kraemer, Liam Eichenberg, Alohi Gilman, Javon McKinley, and Ian Book just amongst the seniors. Cole Kmet will have a decision on his hand in January, as well. With the class of 2020 pretty much wrapped up, Kelly and staff will still have plenty of recruiting on their hands this winter.
4. Both the NBC Fan Feed and the subtle alternate uniforms
I mentioned this once already, and Greg devoted an entire column to it, but PLEASE MAKE THE NOTRE DAME FAN FEED A PERMANENT THING. There hasn’t been a whole lot that NBC has done really well with their coverage of Notre Dame, but the Fan Feed on NBCSN was almost flawless for a first run. Every home game without Doug Flutie is a win for all Notre Dame fans.
I was also a big fan of the subtle alternate uniforms Notre Dame wore on Saturday. The big reason why is because the pants matched the helmets much closer than their normal gameday pants. They still aren’t a 100% matched and Daelin Hayes even revealed during the NBCSN broadcast that the team considered wearing their practice helmets, because that’s how the helmets looked in 1988, but it was better.
The mesh look on the numerals? That I could do without. Finally having the uniform pants match the helmet would be a welcomed improvement from Under Armour.