DUBLIN - Notre Dame's trip to Ireland could not have gone much better.
The Fighting Irish eased in their new quarterback, showed they have a couple of capable replacements for their suspended star running back and even got a touchdown from a 300-pound defensive lineman.
Theo Riddick and George Atkinson both ran for two scores and defensive end Stephon Tuitt returned a fumble 77 yards for another TD as Notre Dame routed Navy 50-10 in Saturday's season opener in Ireland.
A crowd of 49,000, mostly visiting Americans, filled Dublin's Aviva Stadium for the first U.S. college game in Ireland since 1996, when the same two teams played in the Emerald Isle Classic.
It was no classic, regardless of the enthusiasm of the fans, who did the wave even as both sides sent in substitutes in fourth-quarter garbage time.
The Fighting Irish dominated the game, running the ball at will against Navy's undersized defense and showing no signs of missing starter Cierre Wood. Riddick gained 107 yards on 19 carries, Atkinson 99 on just nine carries, leaving the Midshipmen and their outnumbered fans crestfallen at the end.
Riddick started the Irish blowout with an 11-yard run to cap an 11-play, nearly six-minute opening drive. Atkinson broke free on the next drive, sweeping right and then cutting back and rampaging untouched through a bevy of Midshipmen for a 56-yard score.
Wood will also miss next week's game against Purdue because of a violation of team rules.
Quarterback Everett Golson, making his first start, put the Fighting Irish up 20-0 with a 5-yard end zone jump ball to tight end Tyler Eifert, who beat two smaller Navy defenders.
"I think I was comfortable," said Golson, who won the starting job in a four-way competition. He spent his freshman year as the scout team QB, and credited coaches with easing his nerves by giving him permission to make mistakes.
Golson said his coaches told him: "You're going to make mistakes but you just have to relax. You're going to make mistakes, but make them going full speed."
Last year's starter Tommy Rees returns from suspension this week, and Brian Kelly was noncommittal about Golson's hold on the job. Still, the coach has said all along he'd like one quarterback to seize the job, and Golson gave little reason for Kelly to worry.
Kelly said he was pleased with Golson's performance.
"I was. He made some good decisions and moved our offense. We put 50 points on the board, so that's a pretty good start."
Golson, who finished 12 of 18 for 144 yards, often looked best on the move. But he did make one second-quarter mistake that gave Navy brief momentum when he tried to hit Eifert for a second TD and threw the ball without any touch into double coverage.
Cornerback Parrish Gaines stepped in front of the pass at the Navy 4 for an easy interception.