CHICAGO (AP) - Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III gave Notre Dame its first 100-yard rushing duo in a decade, and Everett Golson came off the bench to lead the No. 9 Irish to a 41-3 victory over Miami on Saturday night.
The Irish improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2002. Their 587 yards of offense was a season high, and their 376 yards rushing was their most since Nov. 11, 2000. Wood had 118 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Atkinson added 123 yards and another score. Golson completed his first six passes and finished 17 of 22 for 186 yards passing. He also ran for 51 yards.
"We felt like we found a way to run the football today," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "Our game plan was situated on running the football, which equals time of possession for us. We felt like if we could keep them from getting the big plays, and we could run the football, that was going on our recipe for success
Notre Dame's defense held Miami (4-2) to 285 yards after the Hurricanes had piled up 1,260 yards and 86 points in their previous two games. A half-dozen drops, including two certain touchdowns by Phillip Dorsett on Miami's very first drive, didn't help. Neither did the time of possession, where Notre Dame had a whopping 39:08-20:52 advantage.
Notre Dame had been leaning on its defense to remain undefeated.
"I think this game was needed," Golson said. "I don't know necessarily about my confidence but just for the team's confidence, the offense's confidence."
Miami's only points came on Jake Wieclaw's 28-yard field goal in the first quarter. The Hurricanes got to the Notre Dame 7 late in the fourth quarter only to turn the ball over on downs.
Miami should have been up 7-0 after its first series, but Dorsett dropped two would-be touchdowns, the second going through his hands on the goal line. Instead of making the Irish play catch-up, the Hurricanes were forced to punt.
Golson led the Irish to scores on their first three drives, and would have made it four out of five if Kyle Brindza's 34-yard field goal attempt hadn't squeaked right. The running game took over in the second half - the Irish ground out 270 yards in the final 30 minutes - with the Irish scoring on all four of their drives. Wood set the tone on the very first one, taking off from the Miami 39 and ripping off a long run up the right sideline that looked like it was good for a touchdown. But reviews showed he stepped out at the 2. No matter. He rumbled right up the middle on the next play to give Notre Dame a 20-3 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the third.
The Irish chewed up 86 yards, all on the ground, on their next drive, capping it with a 3-yard run by Wood. That gave Notre Dame a 27-3 lead, and the game was all but out of reach.