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No. 3 Irish Remain Unblemished

November 18, 2012
By TOM COYNE , The Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Everett Golson threw touchdown passes of 50, 34 and 2 yards, Cierre Wood scored on a 68-yard run and third-ranked Notre Dame beat Wake Forest 38-0 Saturday to finish the season undefeated at home for the first time since 1998 and keep its national championship hopes alive.

The Fighting Irish improved to 11-0 for the first time since 1989 and need to beat Southern California to finish a regular season undefeated for the first time since 1988, the last time they won a national championship. The Demon Deacons (5-6) fell to 1-33 all-time against top 5 teams.

The victory virtually assures the Irish of a berth in a BCS game. The Irish need to beat USC and likely need either No. 1 Oregon or No. 2 Kansas State to lose to slip into the BCS title game.

But Notre Dame players and coaches have said all along they are focused only on what they can control, and on Saturday they were in total control of Wake Forest. The Irish hadn't scored more than 20 points at home in regulation all season, but had 31 points at halftime behind Golson's 317 yards passing - which was 28 yards more than the season-high he had against Purdue.

Fourteen of Golson's 17 first-half completions led to first downs. Golson finished with 346 yards on 20 of 30 passing with one interception. Wood rushed for 150 yards on 11 carries and Tyler Eifert had six catches, giving him 130 for his career, breaking the school record of 128 set by Ken MacAfee in 1977.

The Irish dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Deacons 584 yards to 209. It was the first shutout for the Irish since a 35-0 win over Nevada in the season-opener in 2009 and their first shutout against a major conference team since a 42-0 victory over Rutgers in 2002.

Tanner Price was 22 of 33 passing for 153 yards for Wake Forest with his longest pass for 16 yards. The Irish held the Demon Deacons to 55 yards rushing.

After posting a 17-16 record at home the past five seasons, the Irish victory Saturday improved their record at Notre Dame Stadium to 6-0 this year. But this was the first time they made it look easy. The Irish needed overtime to beat Stanford, triple overtime to beat Pittsburgh and won the three other home games by a combined 13 points.

The Irish took control from the start Saturday, with Wood taking a pitch from Golson and racing up the right sideline untouched for his 68-yard touchdown on the game's fourth play. Three plays later, Wake tailback Josh Harris caught a 13-yard pass but fumbled after a hard hit by Irish linebacker Carlo Calabrese and safety Zeke Motta recovered. Harris, Wake Forest's leading rusher, didn't play the rest of the game.

A 20-yard run by Wood set up a 2-yard TD pass by Golson to Eifert. The Irish went ahead 21-0 on their next possession on a 50-yard pass by Golson to John Goodman.

Wake Forest wasn't able to stop the Irish until Golson made a bad decision, lofting a 24-yard pass into the end zone that was intercepted by cornerback Allen Ramsey II with 11:32 to go in the second quarter.