Notre Dame’s running game kicked into gear in the second half to the lead the No. 9 Irish to a 41-3 win over Miami Saturday night in Chicago.
Notre Dame's offensive line opened holes all night for running backs such as Theo Riddick to the tune of 376 yards rushing in Notre Dame's 41-3 victory over Miami.
Senior running back Cierre Wood ran for 118 yards — 100 of them in the second half — and a pair of touchdowns on the team’s first two drives of the third quarter. Wood carried the ball on 15 of the first 18 plays in the second half while putting the game out of reach for the Hurricanes (4-2).
Wood’s biggest run of the night was a 37-yard sprint across the grain of the Miami defense on the half’s first possession. He stepped out of bounds two yards before diving into the end zone for a score, but finished what he started on the next play with an untouched run that put the Irish up 20-3.
Sophomore George Atkinson III broke loose later in the quarter for a 55-yard touchdown run that put him over 100 yards on the day as well. He finished as the game’s leading rusher with 123 yards, giving Notre Dame a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since 2002.
The Irish picked up a total of 376 yards on the ground, rediscovering a rushing attack that had gone missing since bowling over Navy in the season opener. Notre Dame averaged just 89 yards per game against Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State.
Head coach Brian Kelly said they spent the bye week keying in on the rushing attack, and it paid dividends Saturday. Sophomore Cam McDaniel added a late touchdown with the second-team offense to put the finishing touches on Notre Dame's fifth win of the season.
Miami, meanwhile, was never able to find its stride on offense. Sophomore Phillip Dorsett let a pair of what looked to be sure touchdowns slip through his fingers on the game’s first drive. The Hurricanes never got much closer to the end zone.
Junior quarterback Stephen Morris was held to 201 passing yards after averaging 501 per game in his last two wins. The Irish have now reduced their opponents offenses to field goal kickers for three straight games. The last team to reach the end zone against Notre Dame was Purdue late in the fourth quarter back in the second week of the season.
The Irish continued their season-long streak of never trailing by getting off to a respectable start in the first half. They scored on their first three drives of the game to open up a 10-point lead in the first half.
Miami provided a push start with two personal fouls in the first 10 plays of the game. A roughing the punter call extended what would have been a three-and-out. Two plays later referees tacked 15 yards on to a Robby Toma completion for a late hit and got the Irish across midfield. Senior Theo Riddick punched in a one-yard touchdown to finish the drive.
The two teams traded field goals after that. Miami’s Jake Wieclaw hit from 28 yards away. Sophomore Kyle Brindza answered for the Irish with successful kicks from 22 and 32 yards. Brindza moved to 8-of-10 in his career. He missed a 34-yard attempt as time expired in the second quarter.
Sophomore Everett Golson played one of his better games against Miami after coming off the bench in the first quarter. Golson violated team rules during the week and was replaced by junior Tommy Rees in the starting lineup. Golson missed only three plays before coming on to lead the first scoring drive.
He completed his first six pass attempts of the game and finished 17-of-22 for 186 yards through the air. He also joined the running party, scrambling for 51 yards on six attempts in the first half.