SOUTH BEND — Ian Book and Miles Boykin, the heroes of Notre Dame’s Citrus Bowl victory on New Year’s Day, worked their magic once again and a stifling defensive line chipped in as the No. 8 Irish broke a three-game losing streak to No. 7 Stanford with a 38-17 victory Saturday night.
Book threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns, including an 8-yard TD to Boykin, who had career highs in receptions (11) and yardage (144).
“Our chemistry is coming along but he’s such a good player and I love throwing to him,” said Book, whose 55-yard touchdown pass to Boykin while replacing an ineffective Brandon Wimbush provided the Irish a 21-17 victory over LSU in Orlando last January.
Stanford coach David Shaw was impressed by Book, who hails from Northern California and was Notre Dame’s starting quarterback for the second straight week after replacing Wimbush again.
“(Notre Dame has) a quarterback right now that’s outstanding,” Shaw said. “He’s athletic enough to get himself out of trouble. Quarterbacks like this, if you don’t get them down on the ground, it’s gonna hurt you.”
Boykin’s touchdown reception gave the Irish a 31-17 lead over the Cardinal with 8:16 remaining. After Notre Dame’s Te’von Coney intercepted Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello, Book threw a 35-yard scoring pass to Alize Mack 14 seconds later to seal the victory.
Book’s other touchdown passes were a 6-yarder to tight end Nic Weishar in the first quarter and a 10-yarder to Chase Claypool just before halftime.
“A great win,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “I like the fact that we finished the game. That’s when you see a resolve in your team.”
The Irish (5-0) totaled 550 yards, including 272 yards on 55 carries. Senior Dexter Williams, playing in his first game of the season after missing the first four for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, rushed for a career-high 161 yards on 21 carries, the first a 45-yard touchdown that gave Notre Dame a 7-0 lead.
“I’m really proud of his growth and maturity,” Kelly said.
The Irish limited Stanford (4-1) to 229 yards.
Costello threw for just 174 yards and was hurried all night by Notre Dame’s front four, which got four sacks and two hurries from 6-foot-7, 305-pound senior defensive tackle Jerry Tillery.
Bryce Love, last year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up, scored on a 39-yard TD for Stanford, but finished with just 73 yards on 17 carries before limping to the locker room with just over 11 minutes remaining.
The Irish came within one yard of having three players total 100 yards or more in the first half. Book was 12-of-14 passing for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the half. Eight of those first-half completions were to Boykin for 106 yards. Williams rushed for 99 yards on nine carries, including a 45-yard touchdown on his first carry of the season.