Irish rout Temple 49-16 in opener.

SOUTH BEND—Notre Dame got just about everything it could have hoped for in an opening game coming off a disappointing 4-8 season: solid play on defense, three 100-yard rushers and first-time starter Brandon Wimbush throwing for a pair of touchdowns in a 49-16 win over Temple on Saturday.

”When you can exhibit some of the perseverance and the grit that we showed that is needed to have a successful season, that’s a good day for me,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.

It was a different story for the Owls under first-year coach Geoff Collins as Temple struggled throughout.

”There have been a lot of fun moments and some exciting moments I was really looking forward to as a first-time head coach, and this was not one of them,” Collins said. ”We came out slow early. At halftime, I told the kids we had a lot of rookies out there and I thought I acted like a rookie early.”

Wimbush, a junior, threw touchdown passes to Equanimeous St. Brown and Nic Weisher and completed 17 of 30 passes for 184 yards with one interception. He also ran for 106 yards on 12 carries, including an 8-yard touchdown run.

”I thought that for a guy starting for the first time, he provided some excitement and energy to the offense,” Kelly said. ”I think everybody that watched him can see the tools that he has; the ability to run, throw the football. He’s tough. He got hit today. He got back up. Again, I think when you assess the quarterback position at the end of the day, they are going to assess him on wins and losses and today was a good day for the quarterback at Notre Dame because we are 1-0.”

Wimbush said he wasn’t surprised by anything he saw.

”I’ll be sore tomorrow, but right now I’m great physically, mentally, emotionally,” he said.

Josh Adams scored the quickest opening-season touchdown for Notre Dame in 24 years and rushed for 112 yards in the first quarter alone to get the Irish started. Adams finished with 161 yards rushing on 19 carries and Dexter Williams added 124 yards rushing on six carries.

”We just came out with intensity,” Adams said. ”We trusted in our training and everything we’ve been through the offseason and just going out there and having fun and forcing what we wanted to happen.”

Adams scored on a 37-yard run 33 seconds into the game, the fastest touchdown to open a season for the Irish since linebacker Pete Bercich returned an interception 21 yards on the opening play against Northwestern in 1993. It was the quickest offensive touchdown for the Irish to open a season since at least 1963.Wimbush set up the touchdown run with a 33-yard pass to St. Brown on the first play.



Illini escape with narrow win over Ball State

CHAMPAIGN—Jamal Milan blocked Morgan Hagee’s 54-yard field goal attempt as time expired, and Illinois opened its second season under coach Lovie Smith with a 24-21 victory over Ball State on Saturday.Mike Epstein scored on a 1-yard run with just over two minutes remaining after Mike Dudek returned a punt 52 yards. Isaiah Gay came through with a huge sack near the end, and Milan got a hand on the ball on Hagee’s attempt.Chayce Crouch threw for 145 yards and a touchdown. Mike Epstein ran for two touchdowns.Illinois – coming off a 3-9 season – blew a nine-point halftime lead and wasted several scoring opportunities down the stretch. But Dudek brought them back into it with a big punt return through the middle and up the right side to the 35 in the closing minutes.Epstein then plowed in from the 1 with 2:06 left. Crouch converted the 2-point conversion run to make it 24-21.Ball State then drove to the 30 before Isaiah sacked Riley Neal for a 17-yard loss. The Cardinals had the ball on the 36 with five seconds remaining when they turned to Hagee for the tying attempt.Neal passed for 204 yards and a touchdown. James Gilbert ran for 74 yards and a touchdown for Ball State.Illinois took a 16-7 halftime lead, only to give up long touchdown drives on Ball State’s first two possessions of the third quarter.Malik Dunner ran it in from the 3, capping a 75-yard drive. The Cardinals then went 77 yards, with James Gilbert scoring from the 3 to give them a 21-16 lead.The Illini had a big opportunity late in the third when Tre Watson returned an interception near midfield to the Ball State 33. But with the ball on the 24, Anthony Winbush sacked Crouch on back-to-back plays, forcing Illinois to punt.Chase McLaughlin missed a 44-yard field goal for Illinois with about nine minutes left and Crouch got intercepted by Bryce Cosby near midfield on the next possession.Illinois has won 20 straight home openers.The Illini schedule isn’t getting any easier, with Western Kentucky – an 11-game winner last season – visiting next week. The Illini then go to South Florida on Sept. 15, followed by a home game against Nebraska on Sept. 29 and a trip to on Oct. 7.

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