SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — With Southern California on the horizon for No. 9 Notre Dame, Brian Kelly wanted his team to show explosiveness against Bowling Green on Saturday.
The Fighting Irish did, and plenty of it.
Ian Book threw a career-high five touchdown passes and had only four incompletions in a little more than two quarters of work and the defense earned its first shutout since 2014 in a 52-0 victory over the Falcons.
"I thought Ian did a nice job," said Kelly after the Irish (4-1) matched their largest margin of victory of the season from 66-14 win over New Mexico last month. "Obviously a lot of good things happened as we had an opportunity to do things against an undermanned Bowling Green team today.
"They handled themselves like a team that had a vision of what they wanted to accomplish and they went out and they did it," Kelly said.
The Irish had 573 total yards, with senior Tony Jones Jr. rushing over 100 for the third time this season. Jones had 102 yards on seven carries. Notre Dame limited the Falcons (1-4) to 228 yards.
Book completed 16 of 20 for 261 yards before giving way to backup Phil Jurkovec at the 4:11 mark of the third quarter. Jurkovec, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, added a TD pass in the third quarter, a 7-yarder to Avery Davis.
"(Kelly) challenged us to focus on ourselves," said Book, who did not throw a touchdown pass last week in Notre Dame's 35-20 victory over Virginia. "We wanted to go out there and put up some points and have an attention to details."
After going three-and-out on their first possession, the Irish drove 80 yards in six plays and 1:58, culminating with Book's 17-yard scoring pass to Tommy Tremble. Scoring passes to Cole Kmet (21 yards) and Chase Claypool (34 yards) made it 21-0 after the first quarter. Book then hit Claypool (8 yards) and Javon McKinley (25 yards) with scoring passes in the second quarter for a 35-0 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, the Irish defense, which had eight sacks and produced five turnovers in a 35-20 victory over Virginia last week, earned its first shutout since a 31-0 blanking of Michigan. The Irish managed two sacks and one takeaway but had seven quarterback hurries of Bowling Green's two quarterbacks.
"I think there's not a hole on their defense," Falcons coach Scot Loeffler said. "They'll be a top-five team. They're a great football team in my opinion."
Grant Loy completed 13 of 25 passes for 106 yards and Quintin Morris had 10 receptions for 92 yards for the Falcons.
Bowling Green: The rebuilding Falcons, who came into the game being outscored 149-27 in losses to Kansas State (52-0), Louisiana Tech (35-7) and Kent State (62-20), managed 136 yards in the first half on seven drives, the first three of which were three-and-outs. They had a 14-play drive that reached the Irish 22. But Loy was called for intentional grounding and a loss of 21 yards when pressured by Julian Okwara.
Notre Dame: The Irish offense was hardly tested against the Falcons' defense coordinated by Brian VanGorder, who spent 2¼ years as defensive coordinator at Notre Dame from 2014-16. The Irish had 339 yards by halftime.
Notre Dame: The ninth-ranked Irish, who moved up a spot in last week's poll, probably will remain there after entering the game as 45½ -point favorites and leading 35-0 at halftime.
EXPLOSIVE AND THEN SOME
By halftime, Notre Dame's offense had 11 plays of 15 yards or more. The Irish finished with 16.
The longest of the first-half plays was a 40-yard reception by tight end Brock Wright from Book. Tony Jones then started the second half with runs of 38 and 26 yards.
"My job is to get the ball out there on the perimeter," Book said. "We have some really skilled players out there. I was definitely happy with the way the o-line protected today. I had a lot of time. I was able to push the ball down field."
The shutout was the first for Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea.
"It was awesome," said Okwara, who had one of Notre Dame's two sacks and preserved the shutout by blocking a 40-yard field-goal attempt by Nate Needham early in the third quarter. "I was just talking to (safety) Jalen (Elliott) and the rest of the guys in my class how we'd never shut out a team since we've been here."
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
The Irish had just one penalty in the game for 5 yards - a false start by right tackle Robert Hainsey late in the second quarter.
BYE, BYE BIRDIES
Bowling Green was the first of six opponents in the next seven games to take a week off to prepare for Notre Dame. Next week's opponent, USC, had the week off Saturday. The Irish then have an extra week to prepare for their game at Michigan Oct. 26.
Bowling Green: The Falcons entertain MAC rival and I-75 neighbor Toledo.
Notre Dame: Irish play host to long-time rival Southern California on Saturday night.
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