Saturday Night Lights

A 30-point first half helped ease the Irish past the woeful Cougars Saturday in San Antonio.

The brilliance of Golden Tate; the patience of Jimmy Clausen, and a swarming Irish front seven helped No. 23 Notre Dame (5-2) put Washington State (1-6) on ice Saturday night in San Antonio.

A workmanlike Notre Dame offense that relied on the decision-making of its junior signal-caller; north-south running from a backfield tandem (not to mention a few "Wildcat" highlights), and a defensive front seven that was simply too quick for the Cougars protection unit was more than enough to down WSU, 40-14 in front of a partisan Irish crowd at the Alamo Dome.

The Irish led 9-0 after a disjointed first quarter; 30-7 at intermission (due largely to the shocking athleticism of Tate); and controlled the football for more than 41 minutes over the course of the contest in the lopsided win.

Junior Heisman candidate Jimmy Clausen hit classmate Duval Kamara in the back of the end zone to extend the Irish lead to 9-0 near the end of the first period (freshman kicker Nick Tausch's extra point was blocked). Five minutes later, Tate struck out of the "Wildcat" formation for a spinning 16-yard touchdown run and a 16-0 lead.

After the teams traded touchdowns, Tate struck again, this time with a springboard leaping 50-yard touchdown grab over three defenders on a Hail Mary pass from Clausen with no time remaining in the first half.

Tate finished with 80 yards on four receptions and added 61 rushing yards on just four carries. Clausen, who at one point completed 11 consecutive throws, finished 22-27 for 268 yards and a touchdown before tweaking a turf toe injury first suffered in Week Three vs. Michigan State.

Aside from a late first quarter touchdown drive, the Cougars were stymied by the Irish defense, most notably a quick strike defensive line led by sophomores Ethan Johnson and Darius Fleming.

Notre Dame's 390 to 106 total yardage advantage in the first half was an accurate intermission indicator of the considerable gap between the teams. The Irish accumulated a season-high 592 yards of total offense (337 passing/255 rushing) over the course of the contest while holding the Cougars to just 206 and sacking freshman QB Jeff Tuel five times.

Junior half back Robert Hughes, who started for classmate Armando Allen (ankle) finished with a season-high 131 rushing yards; his highest individual total since the 2007 season finale at Stanford (136 yards on 18 carries) and the second-highest total for an Irish runner this season.

Sophomore John Goodman put his name in the box score with his first career touchdown, a 64-yard post pattern from backup Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist.

Crist (ankle) later joined Clausen (toe) and sophomore guard Trevor Robinson (ankle) as Irish injury casualties with Robinson being carted into the locker room in the first quarter.

Notre Dame possessed ball for more than 18 of the game's first 26 minutes and forced the Cougars into eight punts and two interceptions in their first 11 possessions.

Washington State sophomore wide receiver Jordan Karstetter caught two passes, both for corner end zone touchdowns to lead the Cougars.

The Irish recorded two second half interceptions, the first a one-handed grab by sophomore Robert Blanton and then a fourth period leaping read-and-catch of a Cougars screen pass by junior nose tackle Ian Williams.

Notre Dame freshman kicker Nick Tausch hit two field goals, the latter of which set a program record for consecutive field goals made with 14. Tausch broke the record of Mike Johnston (1982).

Sophomore Kyle Rudolph tied his career-best with six receptions (59 yards) while freshman half back Theo Riddick ran for 51 yards on 9 carries, both high marks for the first-year runner.

The Irish will fly home tonight and begin preparations for their annual battle vs. the Naval Academy next Saturday in South Bend. Washington State continues its road odyssey (the Cougars have played away from Pullman since September 19 with the exception of a single home date vs. Arizona State on October 10) with a trip to Tucson to take on Arizona next Saturday.


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