Book leads No. 2 Notre Dame past Syracuse to 45-21 victory in home finale

ACC Football

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (12) celebrates after running for a touchdown in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashore/Pool Photo via AP)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Ian Book threw three touchdown passes and ran for two scores in his final home game at Notre Dame, leading the second-ranked Fighting Irish to a 45-21 victory against Syracuse on Saturday.

The fifth-year senior led the Irish to a victory as a starter for the 30th time, the most ever for a Notre Dame quarterback. The Irish (10-0, 9-0 ACC, CFP No. 2) ran their winning streak to 16 games, best on the country, and their home winning streak to 24.

Next up for the Irish, who are playing this season in a pandemic as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, is the Dec. 19 league championship game in Charlotte, North Carolina. It will be a rematch against No. 4 Clemson if the Tigers beat Virginia Tech later Saturday.

Book was 24 for 37 for 285 yards, with touchdown passes of 21, 28 and 26 to Javon McKinley, who had seven receptions for 111 yards.

Book scored on runs of 28 and 17 yards and rushed for 53 yards while improving to 30-3 as a starter and passing Notre Dame greats Tom Clements, Ron Powlus and Brady Quinn for most victories as a starting quarterback.

Kyren Williams added 110 yards on 20 carries, giving him 1,011 for the season, and freshman Chris Tyree had a 94-yard TD run for Notre Dame’s final touchdown.

The Orange (1-10, 1-9) managed 414 yards on the Irish defense, ranked No. 10 nationally coming into the game, and took a 7-3 lead in the second quarter.

Notre Dame started its run thanks to a roughing the passer by Syracuse that Book later turned into a 28-yard TD run. Linebacker Marist Liufau’s fumble recovery and return to the Syracuse 21 was followed by Book’s first TD pass to McKinley.

Then Book engineered a six-play, 68-yard scoring drive that took just 32 seconds, finishing it with a 28-yard TD pass to McKinley and the Irish were up 24-7 at half.

THE TAKEAWAY

Syracuse: Coach Dino Babers’ young team, which was a 33½-point underdog and with 71.6 percent of its roster either freshmen or sophomores, moved the ball on the Irish defense in closing out the season.

Notre Dame: Book’s string of pass attempts without an interception, dating back to the season opener against Duke, ended at 267 when Ja’Had Carter picked off an underthrown long pass early in the third quarter. Book finished with 348 total yards and five touchdowns, becoming only the second Irish player to move past 10,000 yards (10,008) in total offense. Quinn, who played for Notre Dame from 2003-06, is the leader with 11,944.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Don’t expect Fighting Irish to fall when AP announces its rankings Sunday and CFP rankings come out Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Syracuse: Season complete.

Notre Dame: The Irish have an extra week to rest up for the ACC title game after the conference adjusted the schedules earlier this week, canceling their last game.

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