The Notre Dame Fighting Irish survived another thriller to start the college football season when they edged out the Toledo Rockets 32-29. It was a boring game, and then a frustrating game — and then it just went completely wild. A 3 play 75 yard touchdown drive in under 30 seconds by the Irish and quarterback Jack Coan put the Irish up with just 1:09 left in the game, and a busted Avery Davis reverse pass was converted into 2 points to add a little insurance. Still... it wasn’t until Notre Dame stripped the ball away and recovered a fumble with 25 seconds left in the game, that we could finally exhale a sigh of relief.
Say what you will about Notre Dame’s performance on Saturday, because it wasn’t great — and certainly not what we expected — but they got the win. If we live by the mantra that “winning is hard” then we should also understand that “winning on a streak is even harder.”
On Saturday, Notre Dame upheld two massive streaks with their win. The Irish now have a 25 game winning streak at home and a 34 game winning streak against unranked opponents. These things don’t last forever, and it’s likely that both will be up for grabs once again next week when the Purdue Boilermakers come to South Bend.
A FRESH FACE
Tyler Buchner made his Notre Dame debut early in the game at quarterback, but it wasn’t a planned appearance. After the game, Kelly admitted that the Irish were struggling on the ground and with pass protection, and thought Buchner could provide a spark. With the Irish on their own 4 yard line, Buchner came into the game and ran the ball for 26 yards and 11 yards in consecutive runs. Two plays later Tyler found Braden Lenzy for a 15 yard pass play. All three of those plays help set up Kyren Williams 43 yard touchdown run on the very next play.
Later in the game, Buchner got the ball to Chris Tyree and he took it 55 yards to the house. So of the 32 points scored on the day, Buchner had a direct effect to 14 of them. He rushed for a total of 68 yards on 7 carries and was 3-3 for 78 yards and a score. It was a solid debut.
GAME BALL BERTRAND
After the game, linebacker J.D. Bertand received the game ball for a solid performance on the day. Bertrand made 11 tackles (10 solo) and had 3 TFL. More than that though, he brought a sack of bricks with every hit. this is a physical football player that should only get better as the season progresses.
For the second game in a row, Michael Mayer was the receiving leader with 7 receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns — despite being bracketed for most of the game. If you predicted that Michael Mayer was going to set new Notre Dame records as a tight end this year... you are probably right.
There were 11 sacks that we witnessed on this sunny day in South Bend. Toledo racked up 6 while the Irish made 5 of their own. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa had two sacks and Isaiah Foskey added another to his total — but enough about that.
Notre Dame’s offensive line was out of sorts all day long, but a well executed CB blitz and a couple of “coverage sacks” shouldn’t be pinned all on them. Still, it was a rough day for the big boys on offense, and with Michael Carmody going out with an injury, it makes two weeks in a row that the starting LT was knocked out of the game. ND only has so many left.
Notre Dame committed 3 turnovers on the day that resulted in 19 points scored by Toledo. One of those turnovers was the interception return for touchdown right before the half. Turnovers are a part of the game, and the Irish were able to overcome this massive hinderance — but that’s a dangerous game to play and one they should treat like War Games and simply not play.