Rapid Review: Notre Dame 35, Louisville 17
No. 9-ranked Notre Dame opened its 2019 season with a 35-17 victory versus Louisville on Monday night in Cardinal Stadium, which drew a record crowd of 58,187.
The Fighting Irish offense racked up 423 yards total offense (230 rushing, 193 passing) while the defense allowed only three points over the final 49:08 after falling behind 14-7 in the first quarter to the rejuvenated Cardinals, who finished last season on a nine-game losing streak while getting outscored by an average of 55-19 in those contests.
Senior quarterback Ian Book completed 14 of his 23 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown to sophomore tight end Tommy Tremble and Book also added a career high 81 yards rushing on 14 carries with another score.
With junior running back Jafar Armstrong sidelined in the first quarter because of a "mid-line" injury, per Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, senior running back Tony Jones Jr. took over the prime duties in the backfield and carried 15 times for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, sophomore power back Jahmir Smith (eight carries, 24 yards) scored on two short scoring runs to join Tremble as players who reached the end zone for the first time for the Fighting Irish.
Senior Chase Claypool led the receiving corps with five catches for 94 yards, while Tremble, who received the game ball, added three for 49 yards, highlighted by his 26-yard tally to push Notre Dame ahead 28-14 in the third quarter and continue a run of 21 straight points.
Senior safety Alohi Gilman paced the defense with 10 stops, plus forced and recovered a fumble, while junior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had nine tackles, two for lost yardage. Gilman and Owusu-Koramoah each was credited with six solos.
1 .TOP 3 STORYLINES
• Louisville totaled 163 yards on its first two drives of the game for touchdowns and a 14-7 lead. It was held in relative check thereafter with 220 yards and five fumbles, three of which it lost to the Fighting Irish.
• The interior defense and linebacker was considered Notre Dame’s prime concern, and Louisville was able to generate yards rushing, many on scrambles or option reads by quarterback Jawon Pass (16 carries, 67 yards). However, running backs Javian Hawkins (19 carries, 122 yards) and Hassan Hall (11 carries for 69 yards) both were able to get the edge on sweeps or gash the middle on several runs.
• A two-play, 57-yard drive in just 37 seconds helped provide Notre Dame the breathing room it needed for a 28-14 lead at the 8:06 mark of the third quarter. Book completed back-to-back passes of 31 to Claypool on a crossing route and then to Tremble on the seam for a 26-yard score.
2. TURNING POINT
With the score knotted at 14 and 1:20 left until halftime, three consecutive fumbles by both quarterbacks, two by Pass and one by Book in between, turned into Notre Dame’s advantage when Irish sophomore linebacker Jack Lamb recovered Pass’ second fumble off a bobbled snap and gave the Irish possession at the Cardinals’ 20-yard line at the 1:03 mark.
Four plays later on third-and-goal from the 11, Book pump-faked to his right and ran a quarterback draw to his left for the touchdown with 17 seconds remaining. Taking a 21-14 lead into the locker room when the spirited but 19-point underdog Cardinals had played so well the first 30 minutes was a crucial boost for the Irish.
3. STAT OF THE GAME
Not many would have guessed that Notre Dame’s top two rushers would be Jones with 110 (eight off his career high versus Vanderbilt last year) and Book with 81, romping for 37 on the game’s first play.
4. TOP SURPRISE
In its last four games of 2018, 2-10 Louisville had only three three-and-out series on defense. It had three alone in the first half against Notre Dame.
It also stopped Notre Dame twice on third-and-one, once on third-and-two, and once on fourth-and-four.
5. HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE
This was the first time ever Notre Dame played a football game in the state of Kentucky, and it was the 37th overall state. Alphabetically, the other 13 states Notre Dame football has not played in are Alaska, Arkansas (where Notre Dame is scheduled to play the Razorbacks in 2025), Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming.