To win more games than any coach in the storied history of Notre Dame football, Brian Kelly has needed to be adaptable.
Maybe never more than the first month of this season. The Fighting Irish have used three quarterbacks and four left tackles, moved away from their run-first mentality, and added wrinkles on defense to head into October unbeaten. Next week, the No. 12 Irish play host to No. 8 Cincinnati
Chris Tyree returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and Drew Pyne threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass in relief of an injured Jack Coan, helping Notre Dame (4-0) pull away from No. 18 Wisconsin, 41-13, on Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago.
With victory No. 106 in 12 seasons at Notre Dame, Kelly (106-39) surpassed the legendary Knute Rockne (105-12-5).
Graham Mertz threw four interceptions for Wisconsin (1-2), including two that were returned for touchdowns in the final 2:30 to blow the game open. Notre Dame scored the final 31 points and the Badgers lost their seventh straight to a ranked team.
Running back Chez Mellusi called the collapse “embarrassing.”
Coan, a Wisconsin transfer, left with a left leg injury in the third quarter with the game tied at 10. Kelly said it didn’t appear to be a severe ankle sprain.
Notre Dame had used freshman Tyler Buchner as a mobile complement to Coan the last two games, but he was dealing with a sore hamstring. So it was Pyne’s turn to step up.
Pyne lost a fumble on his second possession, leading to a field goal by the Badgers, but otherwise the redshirt freshman was solid, going 6 for 8 for 81 yards.
Coan played 22 games for Wisconsin over three seasons and was the starter for the 2019 team that reached the Big Ten championship game. He broke his foot in the run-up to the abbreviated Big Ten season last year and Mertz claimed the starting job.
Coan completed 15 of 29 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, and was sacked five times by his former team.
Freshman Tosh Baker started at left tackle and struggled mightily, giving way at times to Joe Alt, another freshman. The Irish have allowed 20 sacks in four games. They allowed 25 in 12 games last season. The Irish ran for 3 yards.
Pitt tramples UNH
Pat Narduzzi shrugged his shoulders and stated the obvious.
“That’s what it’s supposed to look like,” the Pittsburgh coach said after watching the Panthers drill visiting New Hampshire, 77-7.
Except last week during a stunning home loss to Western Michigan that brought his team’s solid start to a crashing halt, it didn’t. Given seven days to regroup, Pitt (3-1) wrapped up nonconference play with one of the greatest offensive displays in the program’s 117-year history.
The Panthers piled up a school-record 707 yards and had little trouble against the overmatched Wildcats (3-1). Pitt’s 77 points were the most by the Panthers since an 88-0 win over Westminster in 1926.
New Hampshire, ranked 22nd in the FCS, saw any hopes of the school’s first win over a Power Five program in 15 years evaporate after falling behind by four touchdowns in the first 14 minutes.
The Wildcats allowed a safety on their opening possession and saw its second end by having Pitt’s Damarri Mathis step in front of a pass by Bret Edwards and return it 35 yards for a touchdown.
Edwards spent most of the afternoon under heavy duress, completing 9 of 20 for 42 yards and a touchdown and an interception. Carlos Washington Jr. ran for 91 yards for the Wildcats, who received $425,000 to travel to Heinz Field.
Pitt’s Kenny Pickett threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another. Pickett completed 24 of 28 passes and led the Panthers to touchdowns on their eight possessions with him in the game. Jordan Addison hauled in six passes for 179 yards and three scores, and freshman running back Rodney Hammond ran for 100 yards and reached the end zone three times.
Miami feasts on Central Connecticut State
Tyler Van Dyke passed for 270 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, and Miami tuned up for ACC play by racking up a school-record 739 yards in an easy 69-0 win over visiting Central Connecticut State.
A total of eight players had either a scoring run or catch for the Hurricanes (2-2), who scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions. The 69 points was the fifth most in school history, and the margin of victory was the third largest.
Romelo Williams, whose hometown of Miramar, Fla., is just a few minutes away from Hard Rock Stadium, completed 15 of 28 passes for 132 yards for Central Connecticut State (1-3). The Blue Devils, who received $650,000 for this game, missed a 30-yard field goal try with 4:58 remaining, which was their last chance of avoiding the shutout.
Van Dyke — playing in place of the injured D’Eriq King (shoulder) — became the first Miami quarterback since Brock Berlin in 2003 to throw a touchdown pass on the first possession of his first start. He finished 10-of-11 passing.
Van Dyke shared time with Jake Garcia, who completed 11 of 14 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut. Cam’Ron Harris had 10 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns for Miami, while Thad Franklin also had 100 rushing yards and a score.
No. 16 Arkansas finally downs Texas A&M
KJ Jefferson threw for 202 yards and two long touchdowns before getting hurt against a Texas A&M defense that hadn’t allowed a passing score this year, and Arkansas beat the seventh-ranked Aggies, 20-10, in Arlington, Texas. It was Arkansas’s first victory in the series in their 10 seasons since becoming Southeastern Conference foes. Arkansas improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2003. Texas A&M (3-1, 0-1 SEC) also had its overall 11-game winning streak snapped while getting outgained, 443-272.
Georgia stuffs Vanderbilt
JT Daniels threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns while playing only the first quarter as No. 2 Georgia dominated host Vanderbilt, 62-0, in the Bulldogs’ biggest win in a series that started in 1893. This game was effectively over when Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) led, 35-0, after the first quarter. Georgia nearly had more points than Vandy managed yards, outgaining the Commodores, 524-77, no matter how deep coach Kirby Smart substituted. Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-1) lost its fourth straight to Georgia and its 14th straight SEC game . . . Casey Thompson threw five touchdowns and ran for another as host Texas (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) continued its offensive explosion since naming him the starting quarterback with a 70-35 rout of Texas Tech. With Thompson at the controls, the Longhorns have scored more than 40 points in the first half in consecutive games. Texas rushed for more than 300 yards for the second straight week and Thompson was 18-of-23 passing for 303 yards. Texas scored 70 points for the first time since beating Colorado, 70-3, in the 2005 Big 12 championship game. Texas Tech quarterback Henry Colombi passed for 324 yards and three touchdowns for Texas Tech (3-1, 0-1) after coming on for injured started Tyler Shough in the second quarter . . . Shedrick Jackson caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from T.J. Finley with 45 seconds remaining, as No. 23 Auburn rallied to beat visiting Georgia State, 34-24. Auburn (3-1) trailed by 12 points at halftime and avoided losing to a Sun Belt team for the first time in program history. Georgia State (1-3) generated 299 yards of offense and 24 points before halftime, but was unable to add to its lead in the final quarters . . . Quarterback Matt McDonald ran for a pair of scores and two late interceptions by Bowling Green, which came in as 31-point underdogs, sealed the win as the visiting Falcons shocked Minnesota, 14-10, on homecoming. The loss snapped Minnesota’s streak of 21 straight nonconference wins, the longest streak in the country entering Saturday’s game. It also marked Minnesota’s first loss to a non-Power 5 conference opponent since losing to North Dakota State on Sept. 24, 2011.
Elliott (6 TD passes) practically perfect for Merrimack
Westin Elliott completed 21 of 23 passes for 336 yards and six touchdowns — including three to Pat Conroy in the third quarter — as Merrimack scored 47 unanswered points in a 47-10 nonconference romp over host Delaware State. After Delaware State (1-3) went out in front, 10-0, with 11:52 left in the second quarter, Elliott capped scoring drives on back-to-back possessions with TD tosses of 7 yards to LJ Robinson and 10 yards to Hayden Fisher to put the Warriors (3-1) in front for good. Elliott broke the game open with TD passes covering 75, 21, and 25 yards to Conroy (5 catches, 139 yards) . . . Marco Siderman and Matthew Sluka combined to pass for 267 yards and three touchdowns and Tenio Ayeni had five catches for 107 yards and two scores as Holy Cross (3-1) overpowered host Monmouth (2-2), 45-15. Tyler Purdy’s 53-yard run set up the Crusaders’ first score — a 2-yard run by Jordan Fuller — for a 7-0 lead. Sluka stretched the lead to 14-0 after one quarter with an 8-yard scoring strike to Ayeni. Siderman came on in the second quarter and threw a 71-yard scoring strike to Ayeni and followed with a 9-yard TD toss to Jalen Coker — putting the Crusaders up, 28-0, at halftime . . . Griffin O’Connor passed for 317 yards and two touchdowns, Rodney Thomas II had two interceptions and a returned onside kick for a score, and host Yale (1-1) beat Cornell (0-2), 23-17.