Notre Dame undefeated at home

Published 10:40 am Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Notre Dame defense lived up to its billing once again as it completely shut down Wake Forest in the Fighting Irish’s 38-0 victory Saturday in the final home game of 2012. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

NOTRE DAME — There was a lot on the line for the No. 3-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they hosted Wake Forest in the final home game of the 2012 season.

Notre Dame proved to be too much for the Demon Deacons on Senior Day as the Irish opened up a quick 21-0 first quarter lead en route to a 38-0 victory.

What the Fighting Irish didn’t know as their game ended and the celebration of an 11-0 start and a perfect home record began, was that No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon would both fall.

Notre Dame vaulted to No. 1 in the polls for the first time since 1993 and was prohibited favorites to be No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series poll when it was announced Sunday night.

The Irish have never been No. 1 in the BCS rankings.

Notre Dame received the opening kickoff and wasted little time finding the scoreboard. After a 24-yard pass play from redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson to senior Theo Riddick gave the Irish a first-and-10 at their own 32-yard line, it was senior running back Cierre Wood who busted through the line and past the secondary on his way to a 68-yard touchdown run and an early Irish lead, 7-0.

The Demon Deacons fumbled the ball away on their third play from scrimmage and the Irish offense was back in business at their own 48-yard line.

Once again Golson would lead the Irish down the field for a touchdown, but this time is was a 2-yard touchdown pass to senior Tyler Eifert giving the Irish a 14-0 lead with 9:10 remaining in the first quarter.

After a Wake Forest punt, it was the Irish offense once again taking center stage. After a pass to T.J. Jones gave the Irish a first-and-10 at midfield, Golson found a senior John Goodman behind the Deacon secondary for a 50-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead with still better than four minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The 21-point lead was more than enough for the Irish defense, led by seniors Manti Te’o and Kapron Lewis-Moore. After the Irish defense forced a three-and-out the offense took just six plays to travel 75 yards.

The final 34 yards came as Golson connected on his third touchdown pass of the half, this time to Jones, and the Irish were running away with the game 28-0.

A late field goal by Kyle Brindza gave the Irish a 31-0 lead at the break.

Notre Dame allowed only 113 yards in the first half while rolling up 430 of its own on the way to a 31-0 halftime lead.

The second half was all about the Irish defense as they pitched their first shutout of the year and the sixth time in 11 games it held its opponent to 10 points or fewer.

The Irish were led defensively by senior Carlo Calabrese with seven tackles and a forced fumble, while offensively it was Golson with 346 yards passing and three touchdowns and Wood with 156 yards rushing and a touchdown on just 11 carries.

Notre Dame finished the season with its first undefeated home season since 1998, and the first time the school has been 11-0 since 1989. Notre Dame has had seven teams in their history reach 10-0. Of the seven, five have won national championships and the other two finished second.

The Irish travel to USC (7-4) to finish the regular season hoping to cap off the undefeated season and quite possibly a spot in the BCS National Championship Game in Miami, Fla. Jan. 7.