College football: No. 16 Notre Dame avoids upset; No. 24 Memphis beats No. 15 SMU

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book scrambles against Virginia Tech on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.
(Quinn Harris / Getty Images)

Ian Book ran seven yards for a touchdown with 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter to cap an 18-play, 87-yard drive, and No. 16 Notre Dame pulled out a 21-20 victory against Virginia Tech on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

The Fighting Irish (6-2) had committed three turnovers deep in Hokies territory, including a fumble at the goal line that Divine Deablo returned for a 98-yard touchdown to tie the score at 14 with nine seconds left in the first half. Virginia Tech (5-3) added a couple of field goals in the second half and Notre Dame missed one, leaving the Irish trailing by six with 3:19 remaining and the ball at their 13.

Book led a methodical drive, converting two fourth downs, including a fourth and 10 from the Tech 33 for 26 yards to Chase Claypool that gave the Irish first and goal from the seven-yard line. After two incomplete passes, Notre Dame caught Virginia Tech in a blitz. Book ran away from it and darted into the end zone.
Book passed for 341 yards and two touchdowns.

After getting blown out at Michigan last week, Notre Dame faced some harsh criticism.


A look what happened Saturday in college football, highlighted by Notre Dame’s victory over Virginia Tech that reaffirmed the Fighting Irish, under coach Brian Kelly, are not good enough to win a national championship, but also are not bad enough to justify firing him.

“This week was about our team,” Book said after his designed run on third and goal tied the game at 20. “It was about having that strong love for each other and just going out there for one another and playing for each other.”

Jonathan Doerer kicked the go-ahead PAT after holder Jay Bramblett fielded a low snap. Freshman Kyle Hamilton then picked off a long pass by Quincy Patterson to seal the victory, the 16th straight by the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium.

“That was a great character victory for our football team,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “They endured a lot this week. They found a way to win.”


at No. 24 Memphis 54, No. 15 Southern Methodist 48: Brady White threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, Antonio Gibson had a school-record 386 all-purpose yards with three scores, and the Tigers held off the Mustangs in Memphis, Tenn.

Memphis (8-1, 4-1) handed SMU its first loss of the season and moved atop the American Athletic Conference’s Western Division to improve its case to represent the Group of Five in the New Year’s Six.

The Mustangs (8-1, 4-1) came in with their best start to a season since 1982, when they won their first 10 games. They left having lost their sixth straight in Memphis in a series dominated by the Tigers.

Through this harrowingly uneven season, as a torn ACL gave way to an unknown freshman quarterback, as a statement over Stanford turned to peril in Provo then unexpected ecstasy against Utah, as his road woes returned and his offense fought through growing pains and his defense was decimated by injury, Clay Helton talked often about the power of destiny.


Memphis started the day on display thanks to ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Beale Street with wrestler Jerry Lawler as the big guest, then filled the Liberty Bowl with 59,506 for the biggest crowd for an American conference game. The Tigers followed by outdueling the nation’s sixth-best scoring offense, which had been averaging 43 points a game.

The teams combined for 1,067 yards of offense.

at No. 4 Clemson 59, Wofford 14: Trevor Lawrence accounted for four touchdowns, Travis Etienne ran for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and the Tigers won their 24th consecutive game, rolling over the Terriers of the Football Championship Subdivision in Clemson, S.C.

Etienne, the reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, helped Clemson (9-0) put the game away early with scoring runs of 47 and 86 yards in the game’s first 15:12. The Tigers improved to 34-0 against FCS programs. It was the their sixth straight win over Wofford (5-3), which fell to 1-21 against Football Bowl Subdivision schools.


Etienne became Clemson’s first rusher with three 200-yard games in his career. He also surpassed James Davis for Clemson’s career record for rushing touchdowns with 48.

at No. 11 Auburn 20, Mississippi 14: In Auburn, Ala., Bo Nix passed for a career-high 340 yards and had a one-yard touchdown run for the Tigers (7-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference), who mostly dominated on the stat sheet but struggled to put the 19-point underdog Rebels (3-6, 2-4) away after repeated stalled drives and three missed field goals.

Anders Carlson’s third miss, a 47-yarder with 1:14 to play, gave Ole Miss (3-6, 2-4) a shot at a winning drive.

The Rebels, who had no timeouts left, quickly moved from their 31-yard line into Tigers territory. Finally, on fourth and three from the 35, John Rhys Plumlee scrambled around and made a desperation heave under pressure. Christian Tutt intercepted the ball and raced most of the way to the other end zone. And Auburn, which was coming off a 23-20 loss at No. 1 LSU, managed to survive.


Jake Fromm picked apart Florida’s defense for the second straight year and No. 8 Georgia beat the sixth-ranked Gators 24-17 in the ‘World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.’

No. 14 Michigan 38, at Maryland 7: Giles Jackson returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and the Wolverines used two first-half scoring runs by freshman Zach Charbonnet to pull away from the Terrapins in College Park, Md.

Seeking to build on a 45-14 rout of Notre Dame a week earlier, Michigan (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) led 21-0 at halftime and coasted to the finish against fading Maryland (3-6, 1-5).

Jackson’s game-opening dash down the right sideline set the tone. Charbonnet ended the Wolverines’ first drive with a two-yard run, and the defense made those two scores stand up.


No. 9 Utah recovered from an 11-point first-half deficit to defeat Washington 33-28 in Seattle and keep alive its College Football Playoff hopes.

No. 17 Cincinnati 46, at East Carolina 43: Sam Crosa kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Bearcats over the Pirates in Greenville, N.C.

Desmond Ridder threw for 161 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 146 more and led the winning drive in the final 1:10 for East Division-leading Cincinnati (7-1, 4-0 American Athletic). The 24½-point favorite trailed by 12 points with less than nine minutes left before escaping with its sixth win in a row.

Ahmad Gardner returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown with 4:38 remaining to give the Bearcats a short-lived 43-40 lead, and Michael Warren II rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns.


Holton Ahlers threw for a school-record 535 yards, matched a career high with four touchdown passes and rushed for a score for the Pirates (3-6, 0-5). Jake Verity tied it at 43 with his third field goal, a 27-yarder with 1:14 remaining — plenty of time for Ridder and the Bearcats to rally.

No. 21 Boise State 52, at San Jose State 42: George Holani ran for 126 yards and four touchdowns, and the Broncos bounced back from their first loss of the season by beating the Spartans in San Jose.

Boise State (7-1, 4-0 Mountain West) lost 28-25 at Brigham Young two weeks ago with starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier sidelined but responded following a week off despite falling into an early 14-0 hole.

The Broncos had six rushing touchdowns and 253 yards on the ground, taking the lead for good on Holani’s third touchdown early in the fourth quarter that made it 38-34.


San Jose State dropped to 4-5, 1-4.

No. 22 Kansas State 38, at Kansas 10: Skylar Thompson ran for 127 yards and three touchdowns, Harry Trotter added 92 yards rushing and another score, and the Wildcats romped to a victory over the Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kan.

Thompson also had 129 yards passing for Kansas State (6-2, 3-2), which showed no letdown from its upset of then-No. 5 Oklahoma in defeating Kansas (3-6, 1-5) for the 12th consecutive time.

Carter Stanley was 13 of 23 for 115 yards and two interceptions for the Jayhawks before leaving with an injury late in the game. Star running back Pooka Williams managed just 61 yards rushing. The Wildcats held new coach Les Miles’ team to 241 yards of offense.


at No. 23 Wake Forest 44, North Carolina State 10: Jamie Newman returned from an injury to throw for three touchdowns and run for two more for the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Newman had missed a game and part of another with a shoulder injury, and his status was uncertain for the long-running series. But he and Wake Forest (7-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) got off to a dominant start that had this one wrapped up early.

Newman threw for 287 yards and ran for 30 more before checking out late in the third. N.C. State is 1-3 in the ACC and 4-4 overall.