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Saturday’s college football: No. 10 Notre Dame beats Duke 27-13 in ACC debut

John Fineran
Associated Press

South Bend, Ind. – Kyren Williams ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns in his first start, grad quarterback Ian Book threw for 263 yards and No. 10 Notre Dame beat Duke 27-13 on Saturday at rainy Notre Dame Stadium in the season and Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.

“That was a pretty good opener for him; there’s a lot he can build off of this,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said about the speedy Williams, who saw limited action last season as a freshman. Williams had 19 carries and also was Notre Dame’s leading receiver with two receptions for 93 yards, one a 75-yarder in the first half on a screen play.

More:Notre Dame extends coach Brian Kelly’s contract through 2024

“We knew it was going to be a grind, but they hung in there,” added Kelly on a day when the school announced a four-year contract extension through the 2024 season and he improved to 9-2 in openers. “We played much better football in the second half.”

The victory was Notre Dame’s 19th straight at home and the first for the Fighting Irish in a conference after 132 years as an independent. Because of COVID-19, the Irish are playing this season as a member of the ACC. The school announced a crowd of 10,097, 90% of them students, attended the game in the 77,622-seat stadium where fans were wearing masks and socially distanced because of the pandemic.

Book outdueled Duke grad quarterback Chase Brice, who threw for 259 yards on 20-of-37 passing and rushed for a touchdown in his debut for coach David Cutcliffe after transferring in from Clemson.

“The story of the day was they made more plays than we made,” Cutcliffe said. “They’re a good team. I think we have a really good football. We have to play better in the second half that we did on offense.”

The Blue Devils, who had 246 yards at halftime, had just 82 after halftime.

Book, who rushed for 139 yards and passed for 181 yards and four touchdowns last season in Notre Dame’s 38-7 victory at Duke, completed 19 of 31 passes, one a 17-yard TD pass to Avery Davis early in the fourth quarter that increased the Irish lead to 24-13. He rushed for just 12 yards on nine carries.

The Irish, who were outgained 151-13 in the first quarter as the Blue Devils took a 3-0 lead on the first of Charlie Ham’s two field goals, took a 10-6 halftime lead when Jonathan Doerer nailed a 48-yard field goal, his first of two successful field goals, as time expired.

Notre Dame finished with a 439-334 edge in total offense, including a 176-75 advantage on the ground.

Williams, who had 75 of Book’s 185 passing yards in the first half, scored his first touchdown on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter. His second TD came on a fourth-and-inches play from the Duke 26 when he took a handoff from Book, cut left outside of the blocks of tackle Liam Eichenberg and guard Aaron Banks and burst into the end zone for a 17-6 Irish lead in the third quarter.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence scores against Wake Forest during the first half.

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No. 1 Clemson 37, Wake Forest 13: Trevor Lawrence threw for 351 yards and combined for three touchdowns and Clemson continued its domination of Wake Forest in the season opener for both teams.

Trevor Etienne ran for 102 yards and a touchdown for Clemson, which improved to 70-5 since the start of the 2015 season under coach Dabo Swinney.

Clemson has outscored Wake Forest 152-19 over the last three seasons, holding the Demon Deacons to just one touchdown.

Clemson is looking to win its sixth straight Atlantic Coast Conference title and reach the College Football Playoff national championship game for the fifth time in the six seasons. The last time the Tigers were on the field they lost 42-25 loss to LSU in which Lawrence was held without a touchdown pass.

Lawrence’s passes were on the mark for the most part, as he completed 22 of 28 passes. He spread the ball around to eight receivers in the first half alone as Clemson took a 27-0 lead.

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman was 11 of 21 for 182 yards passing and was sacked four times before being replaced in the fourth quarter.

(At) No. 5 Oklahoma 48, Missouri State 0: Spencer Rattler threw for 290 yards and four touchdowns in his first start for Oklahoma.

Rattler, the highly touted redshirt freshman from Phoenix, only played the first two quarters and helped the Sooners take a 41-0 lead.

The Sooners led 31-0 at the end of the first quarter and outgained the Bears 236 yards to 1. It was the first time since 2008 that Oklahoma scored at least 31 points in a first quarter and the sixth time in school history.

Rattler got plenty of help. Seth McGowan, a true freshman, caught a touchdown pass and ran for a score. Charleston Rambo had four catches for 80 yards and two scores, including a 53-yard touchdown catch from Rattler. Oklahoma gained 608 total yards, including 484 passing.

The Sooners held Missouri State to 136 yards and seven first downs in their first shutout since 2015.

It was a rough debut with the Bears for coach Bobby Petrino, best known for his success at Louisville and Arkansas. He took over a Missouri State program that went 1-10 last season. Redshirt freshman Jaden Johnson completed 9 of 19 passes for 72 yards for the Bears.

(At) No. 14 Texas 59, UTEP 3: Sam Ehlinger threw a 78-yard touchdown to Joshua Moore on the first play and had a career-high five scoring passes in the first half, as No. 14 Texas rolled to a season-opening win.

Ehlinger finished with 426 yards. He left the game midway through the third quarter with Colt McCoy’s single-game records for yards (470) and touchdowns (six) easily within reach had he stayed on the field.

Moore’s first touchdown since 2018 came on an inside route when he burst past one diving defender and outran two more with an easy path to the end zone. Ehlinger’s final touchdown pass came on a 6-yard toss to walk-on Kai Money in the final seconds of the first half.

Texas’ original schedule had the Longhorns visiting defending national champion LSU this weekend, in a rematch of a 2019 classic. But that game was scrapped as the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference retooled their schedules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas coach Tom Herman called just getting on the field after an offseason dominated by the virus disruptions “cathartic.”

“We had zero COVID issues leading up to this game … Hope it stays that way,” Herman said. “Really proud of the way our team handled their business leading up to this game.”

With social distancing rules and limits in place, Texas announced a crowd of 15,337 at a stadium that typically holds close to 100,000.

(At) No. 18 North Carolina 31, Syracuse 6: Javonte Williams ran for three fourth-quarter touchdowns to help the 18th-ranked Tar Heels pull away and beat Syracuse, winning in an empty home stadium after the school opted to open with no fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After a game-opening touchdown drive, the Tar Heels (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) sputtered with turnovers and penalties before ultimately settling into a rhythm to look like the team expected to be a contender in the ACC race.

By the fourth quarter, they were rolling, with Williams capping his hat trick by bouncing off a tackler on a 6-yard scoring run that helped the Tar Heels turn a 10-6 lead into a 25-point margin.

Syracuse’s offense did little well, generating little from its running game unless it came on quarterback Tommy DeVito scrambling to keep plays alive. But DeVito completed just 13 of 31 passes for 112 yards while taking seven sacks, as the Orange (0-1, 0-1) finished with 202 yards.

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Chris Smith, center, returns a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown during the first half.

Louisiana-Lafayette 31, (at)  No. 23 Iowa State 14: Louisiana-Lafayette got kick and punt returns for touchdowns to help secure one of its biggest wins in program history.

In the opener for both teams, the Ragin’ Cajuns were ignited by Chris Smith’s 95-yard kickoff return in the second quarter and Eric Garror’s 83-yard punt return in the third.

Levi Lewis also threw a 78-yard scoring pass to Peter LeBlanc to give Louisiana-Lafayette a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter.

Louisiana-Lafayette beat a Top 25 opponent for the first time, having gone 0-26 against ranked foes away from home. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ only other win over a Top 25 team was in 1996 at home against Texas A&M.

The Ragin’ Cajuns limited Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy to 16-of-35 passing for 145 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception.