LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Ian Book ran for one touchdown and threw for another, Jahmir Smith rushed for two scores and No. 9 Notre Dame beat Louisville 35-17 on Monday night.
Tony Jones Jr. rushed 15 times for 112 yards, including an 11-yard TD, as the Fighting Irish put away the rebuilding Cardinals. It was the second career 100-yard rushing game for Jones, whose career-high of 118 yards came against Vanderbilt in 2018.
Notre Dame trailed 14-7 in the first before Jones’ score tied it, and Book followed with an 11-yard scoring run just before halftime.
Book’s TD came after a bizarre sequence featuring three consecutive fumbles between the teams, the last of which Notre Dame recovered at Louisville’s 20. The Irish forced five fumbles overall and recovered three. The last time the Irish recovered three opponent fumbles was against Navy in Dublin in 2012.
Book hit Tommy Tremble with a 26-yard TD pass midway through the third for a 28-14 lead. He finished 14 of 23 passing for 193 yards. Smith rushed for touchdowns of three and one yards and totaled 24 on eight carries.
Louisville junior quarterback Jawon Pass rushed for touchdowns of eight and 17 yards in the first quarter, but the Cardinals struggled after that and managed only Blanton Creque’s 46-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
Playing before a record home crowd of 58,187, the Cardinals were outgained 425-383.
The Irish defense initially looked shaky before adjusting to keep Louisville out of the end zone after the first quarter. Four sacks highlighted that performance, along with the fumble recoveries that stopped drives and momentum. Alohi Gilman led the defense with 10 tackles, a forced fumble and a recovery, while Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah record nine tackles, including two for losses. Book’s feet helped set the offensive tone as the Irish rushed for 232 yards. He then threw the key touchdown for a cushion they never lost.
Notre Dame hosts New Mexico on Sept. 14 at Notre Dame Stadium.