Tom Krug took the snaps and let his backfield do the rest.
Randy Kinder and Autry Denson each ran for more than 100 yards as No. 8 Notre Dame locked up a New Year’s Day bowl bid with a 44-14 victory Saturday night over Air Force.
The ground attack made things easy for Krug, who was making his first start in place of injured quarterback Ron Powlus. Krug completed eight of 13 passes for 96 yards as the Fighting Irish (9-2) compiled 410 yards on the ground and 514 overall.
Kinder finished with 122 yards and two touchdowns and Denson had 109 yards and two scores. Marc Edwards chipped in with 84 yards in 14 carries.
The Irish, who won their eighth in a row over Air Force, will finish the season ranked in the top 10 to earn a trip to the Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl as an at-large selection in the bowl coalition.
Beau Morgan and Nakia Addison provided the only highlights for Air Force (7-4), which had its Copper Bowl hopes diminished. The Falcons were eliminated from the Holiday Bowl race earlier in the day.
Morgan’s first attempt of the night gave him 1,006 passing yards on the year and made him the eighth major-college player--and third Air Force quarterback--to run for 1,000 yards and throw for 1,000 in a season.
Addison ran for 108 yards and scored Air Force’s first touchdown--an eight-yard catch to cut the lead to 23-7 with 6:47 left in the third quarter.
Denson’s 23-yard touchdown run completed a 71-yard scoring drive to make it 30-7, and the Irish went 39 yards on their next possession to put the game away.
Air Force closed the scoring on Morgan’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Matt Brooks with 13:03 left in the game.
The Irish dominated the line of scrimmage early and went 94 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Denson had 49 yards rushing during the drive, capped by Kinder’s 17-yard touchdown run.
An Air Force turnover led to a Notre Dame field goal with 38 seconds left in the first quarter, and Denson scored from three yards out 5:26 into the second to give the Irish a 17-0 cushion.
Air Force, the nation’s second-best rushing team coming into the game (336.2 yards), managed 223 yards in 37 carries.