Ian Book Was Model of Consistency Once Again for Notre Dame
Ian Book became the first Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback to win 30 games in his career by beating the Syracuse Orange 45-21 on Saturday.
Book turned in another strong showing for the No. 2 side in the College Football Playoff rankings in the final tuneup before the December 19 ACC Championship Game.
While Book was once again the star of the offense, Kyren Williams thrived in a supporting role to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on the ground.
Notre Dame's offense looks like a well-oiled machine, but its defense could use a bit of work in the two weeks before the rematch with the Clemson Tigers.
Brian Kelly's squad allowed over 200 rushing yards to the visiting Orange, who stuck with the Irish for most of the first half.
Book Becomes Winningest Notre Dame QB
Book became the first Notre Dame quarterback to reach the 30-win mark in his career.
The senior quarterback broke out of a four-way tie with Saturday's win that confirmed Notre Dame would be the higher-ranked team in the ACC Championship Game.
Book threw for three touchdowns for the fourth time this season and extended his streak of 250-yard games to four.
He has been a stabilizing force in the pocket for a team that had to replace some of its top skill position players from a year ago, including current Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool.
Book developed chemistry with Javon McKinley, Michael Mayer and others in the passing game, and he took the pressure off Kyren Williams from working into a starring role at running back.
In most years, the quarterback of the second-ranked team would be in the Heisman Trophy discussion, but Book does not have the high passing totals that Kyle Trask, Mac Jones and Trevor Lawrence have.
Book may not earn any top-three Heisman votes, but he could counter the lack of award buzz by winning championships with the Fighting Irish.
Rushing Attack Thrived, Kyren Williams Reached 1,000-Yard Mark
Williams once again provided a solid complement to Book by running for 110 yards on 20 carries.
The sophomore running back's sixth 100-yard performance of the season allowed him to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.
In three of the last four games, Williams recorded at least 110 ground yards. Two of those performances came against the Clemson Tigers and North Carolina Tar Heels.
In addition to Williams, Chris Tyree wracked up 109 yards and a score on six carries. Ninety-four of those yards came on a fourth-quarter touchdown run.
Notre Dame finished with 283 rushing yards, which was two fewer than the total Book earned through the air.
If the Irish remain that balanced moving forward, they could keep Clemson and any playoff opponents off balance enough to have a chance to win the ACC and national titles.
Rushing Defense Needs to Be Sharper Moving Forward
The one shortcoming from Saturday's win was the concession of 229 rushing yards.
Syracuse also had a pair of 100-yard rushers, and similar to Tyree, Cooper Lutz's total was bolstered by a long touchdown run.
Notre Dame conceded an 80-yard scoring scamper to Lutz for the game's final score, and it allowed Sean Tucker to go 40 yards into the end zone to start the second-half scoring.
The Irish can't be gashed for that high of a total on December 19. Clemson has a much more talented backfield headlined by Travis Etienne that could deliver a few gut punches to their conference championship hopes.
Prior to Saturday, Notre Dame allowed the fourth-lowest rushing-yard average and was one of 11 FBS programs to concede under 100 yards per game.
If Notre Dame reverts back to that form in the upcoming games, it would give itself a solid shot at capturing hardware.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.