Irish survive at home

The Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Brandon Wimbush passed for a career-high 280 yards, ran for two touchdowns and shook off an injury as No. 5 Notre Dame won its seventh straight, beating Wake Forest 48-37 on Saturday to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Wimbush was 15-of-30 passing and threw a 34-yard touchdown to sophomore Chase Claypool, who had a career-high 180 yards on nine receptions. Wimbush also had 110 yards on 12 carries and the second TD was a 50-yarder in the second quarter.

“Winning is hard, especially in November,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “Anytime you find a way to win a football game — Wake Forest executed its offense extremely well — is helpful. This game can humble you in a heartbeat.”

Wake Forest (5-3) did not go down without a fight, piling up 587 yards against a defense directed by former Demon Deacons coordinator Mike Elko.

Notre Dame star running back Josh Adams left the field late in the first quarter and Wimbush joined him late in the first half as Notre Dame Stadium grew silent in a hurry. Wimbush was hit on his planted left leg after a 28-yard gain, but left the field on his own power. He had a bandage on his left hand after the game.

Wimbush returned for the second half while Adams rode a stationary bike on the sideline as the Irish (8-1, No. 3 CFP) totaled season highs in passing (340) and total yards (720) to set up a showdown with No. 9 Miami (No. 10 CFP) next Saturday night.

Adams, who was fifth nationally with 1,169 yards entering the game, exited after gaining just 22 yards on five carries. His injury occurred when he dove into a pile after a Wimbush fumble with about 2¢ minutes left in the first quarter.

“He wasn’t in concussion protocol,” Kelly said, denying online reports. “Josh has had a busy week with exams and other things. He just wasn’t feeling right.”

Adams did not return and didn’t need to — the nation’s No. 6 rushing offense, averaging just under 318 yards a game, gained 383 on the capable legs of Wimbush, Deon McIntosh (63 yards) and four others who surpassed Adams’ output.

Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford threw for 331 yards and accounted for three touchdowns (two passing) and running back Matt Colburn became the first back to run for 100 yards against Notre Dame this season, finishing with 120.

The takeway

Wake Forest: Wolford and the offense had another big game. A week after totaling 625 total yards, with Wolford throwing for 461 yards and 5 TDs, he threw for 331 against the Irish. But the Demon Deacons fell behind early and remain one win short of bowl eligibility.

Notre Dame: The Irish showed their depth after the injuries to Wimbush and Adams. Sophomore backup QB Ian Book threw a 1-yard TD pass when Wimbush got hurt and then rushed for 54 yards after Wimbush’s day was over. Tony Jones Jr. (59), wide receiver Kevin Stepherson (42) and Dexter Willliams (33) all surpassed Adams, who was hurt a day after Notre Dame began selling “33Trucking” hats (Adams wears No. 33) to tout his Heisman Trophy candidacy and aid a hardship fund for athletes.

The playoffs

Notre Dame was third in the first College Football Playoff rankings behind No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama and just ahead of No. 4 Clemson and did nothing to hurt its position. The next rankings will be released Tuesday night.

Up next

Wake Forest: Plays at Syracuse next Saturday.

Notre Dame: Plays at Miami next Saturday.