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Friday's college football: Book, defense help No. 2 Notre Dame beat No. 25 UNC 31-17

Aaron Beard
Associated Press

Chapel Hill, N.C. — Ian Book kept scrambling to buy time and help No. 2 Notre Dame put together multiple long touchdown drives. The Fighting Irish’s defense allowed little room for Sam Howell and No. 25 North Carolina’s potent offense to do the same.

Book threw for a score while the Fighting Irish defense locked down the Tar Heels for the final three quarters in a 31-17 victory on Friday. The win kept Notre Dame on course to earn a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

North Carolina's Jeremiah Gemmell (44) stops Notre Dame's Kyren Williams during the first quarter.

Both teams scored two first-quarter touchdowns and went into halftime tied at 17, only to see Notre Dame gradually take over in a performance coach Brian Kelly called “one of those road wins that really shows the mettle of your football team.”

“It felt like it was going to be a shootout in the beginning,” said Book, adding: “Our defense did an unbelievable job in the second half and gave us a lot of opportunities, and we were able to capitalize on it.”

Book threw for 279 yards and ran for 48 yards for the Fighting Irish (9-0, 8-0 ACC, No. 2 CFP), using his mobility and elusiveness to keep plays alive on a night when both offenses frequently faced long fields.

Receiver Ben Skowronek got Notre Dame its first lead with his 13-yard run around the right side midway through the third quarter. Kyren Williams ran for 124 yards — including a 47-yarder with about 5½ minutes left as the Irish burned clock.

Williams closed that drive with his second rushing TD, a clinching 1-yarder with 1:20 left that kept the Fighting Irish alone atop the ACC standings ahead of No. 4 Clemson and No. 10 Miami. He also had a 4-yard scoring catch in the first quarter after Book corralled a low snap and scrambled to buy time before finding him on the right side.

More impressive, though, was a defensive effort that forced Howell and the high-scoring Tar Heels to work for every gain after the opening quarter.

UNC (6-3, 6-3, No. 19 CFP) sprinted to touchdowns on its first two drives, but Notre Dame surrendered only one field goal from there. The Tar Heels came in averaging 43 points and 563 yards, yet they were unable to protect Howell nor open running lanes for a pair of backs averaging better than 100 yards rushing each in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter.

UNC finished with a season-low 298 yards while Howell — one of the national leaders in passing yardage and touchdowns — threw for just 211 yards and a score. He also ran for a touchdown.

“You can’t rush for 87 yards and have six sacks and beat anybody, much less a really, really good football team,” UNC coach Mack Brown said. “So give Notre Dame credit. They’re really, really good. When they stepped up in the second half on defense, they really stepped up.”

More Top 25

(At) Oregon State 41, No. 9 Oregon 38: Taking his first college snap after starting quarterback Tristan Gebbia limped off, Chance Nolan scored on a 1-yard, fourth-down run with 33 seconds left to give Oregon State an upset victory over No. 9 Oregon.

Jermar Jefferson ran for 226 yards and two touchdowns to help the Beavers (2-2) win their second straight game. Jefferson has run for at least 100 yards in each of Oregon State’s four games and is on pace to hit 1,000 despite the short season.

Oregon (3-1) had won seven in a row and three straight over the rival Beavers. The loss dashed any slim hopes the Ducks had of a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Ducks were ranked No. 15 in the first CFP rankings released Tuesday.

Tristan Gebbia threw for 263 years and a score and had a touchdown run during the foggy game at Reser Stadium. While no fans were allowed in the game, cars passing near the stadium honked for the home team in the aftermath.

Tyler Shough threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns for Oregon.

It was the 124th edition of the rivalry that dates to 1894. This summer amid racial injustice protests nationwide, both schools decided to drop the “Civil War” nickname.

Gebbia scored on a 1-yard keeper early in the fourth quarter to pull Oregon State to 31-26.

Oregon State had an interception on the ensuing drive and got the ball on the Oregon 33. Gebbia found Kolby Taylor with a 31-yard pass before Jefferson scored on a 2-yard run. Gebbia’s keeper on the two-point conversion gave Oregon State a 34-31 lead.

An Oregon State penalty helped the Ducks on their drive, capped by Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s 1-yard dash into the end zone, to give Oregon back the lead with 8:27 left.

After the teams traded possessions that ended on downs, the Beavers got one more chance. Gebbia hit Taylor with two passes on the drive, putting the Beavers on the Oregon 6.

Gebbia appeared to score but the officials put the ball on the 1 on third down. Gebbia ran again, and limped to the sideline while the play was under review. Oregon was offside, but no penalty was called. That set up Nolan’s touchdown run on fourth down on the only play of his college career.

Jaylon Redd scored on a 37-yard run on Oregon’s first drive of the game, but Jefferson answered for the Beavers with an 82-yard touchdown run, a career-long.

Shough scored on a 1-yard keeper to put Oregon back in front. After an Oregon State field goal, Devon Williams caught Shough’s 60-yard touchdown pass on a second-and-21 play.

Trailing 21-13 after another field goal, Oregon State tried to convert on fourth-and-3 and failed, giving the Ducks the ball on the Beavers’ 44. The drive ended with Henry Katleman’s 33-yard field goal.

Gebbia’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Zeriah Beason closed the Beavers to 24-18 but a two-point conversion failed. Oregon scored on Shough’s 4-yard scoring pass to Hunter Kampmoyer to pull away again before Gebbia’s 1-yard keeper narrowed the gap to 31-26 early in the final quarter.

The Ducks held off UCLA and former coach Chip Kelly 38-35 last Saturday. The Beavers were coming off their first win, a 31-27 victory over California last weekend. Jefferson ran for 196 yards and a touchdown.

No. 15 Iowa State 23, (at) No. 20 Texas 20: Breece Hall scored on a 3-yard run with 1:25 remaining and Iowa State held off last-minute drive by Sam Ehlinger and Texas to remain in first place in the Big 12.

After Iowa State sacked Ehlinger on third down, Texas’ Cameron Dicker barely missed left with a 58-yard field goal attempt as time expired.

The Cyclones (7-2, 7-1) have almost locked up a spot in the Big 12 championship game for the first time.

Hall gained 91 yards on 20 carries, his first game under 100 this season, but had 30 on the final 69-yard touchdown drive. Brock Purdy completed 25 of 36 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown. Charlie Kolar had six receptions for 131 yards.

Ehlinger was 17-of-29 for 298 yards and one touchdown in what could be his final home game for the Longhorns. Ehlinger and Brennan Eagles set up touchdowns in the first and third quarters, connecting for 59 and 45 yards.

Big Ten

(At) Iowa 26, Nebraska 20: Tyler Goodson ran for 87 of his 111 yards in the second half and Zach VanValkenburg recovered Adrian Martinez’s late fumble to secure Iowa’s win.

The Hawkeyes (4-2, 4-2 Big Ten) extended their win streak to four games and have beaten the Cornhuskers (1-4, 1-4) six years in a row.

Iowa was looking to add to its six-point lead when Keith Duncan’s 51-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the crossbar with 2:02 left. The Cornhuskers then drove from their 32 to the Iowa 39 before Martinez fumbled under pressure. Iowa ran out the last 1:18.

Tied 13-13 at halftime, Nebraska took its first lead on its opening drive of the third quarter. Utilizing a quick tempo, the Huskers capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run by Rahmir Johnson.

Iowa answered with a 14-play, 66-yard drive. Mekhi Sargen punctuated the drive with a touchdown, and Duncan followed with field goals of 48 and 37 yards.

Spencer Petras completed 18 of 30 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown, with one interception.

Martinez, back as the starter after two games, was 18-of-20 for 174 yards. He also ran for 28 yards and a score.

State

Central Michigan 31, (at) Eastern Michigan 23: Lew Nichols III had two fourth-quarter touchdown runs and finished with a career-high 196 yards rushing, and Central Michigan scored 25 points in the final quarter to beat Eastern Michigan.

Nichols scored from the 9 and 1 to cap long drives, and Marshall Meeder made a 21-yard field goal with 2:31 to play to give Central Michigan (3-1, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) a 24-23 lead.

Devonni Reed intercepted a Preston Hutchinson tipped pass on Eastern Michigan’s (0-4, 0-4) next possession. Kobe Lewis scored on a 9-yard touchdown run three plays later for the Chippewas with 1:43 remaining.

Nichols had 29 carries and Lewis added 106 yards rushing on 18 carries. Meeder kicked field goals from 51 and 29 yards in the first quarter.

Hutchinson was 23-of-37 for 365 yards passing, threw three interceptions and added 57 yards on the ground. Hutchinson had a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and broke loose for a 20-yard TD run midway through the second.