SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush had a wrap protecting his left hand during the second half of the 48-37 victory over Wake Forest.
Good thing he throws with his right.
Wimbush passed for a career-high 280 yards, ran for 110 more and totaled three touchdowns as the Irish (8-1, No. 3 CFP) won their seventh straight game Saturday on a day standout running back Josh Adams missed the second half because of weariness.
"I made the plays necessary to win the game and left some out there," Wimbush said. "There's always room to improve."
Coach Brian Kelly, who awarded a game ball to Wimbush because of his "guts and toughness," said he likes the way his first-year starter is developing as Notre Dame moves into the home stretch of the regular season with an eye on playing for a national championship.
"The narrative of his ability to throw the football should change immediately," Kelly said after Notre Dame had its best offensive performance of the season with 710 total yards.
Of course, the Fighting Irish also gave up 587 yards to Wake Forest (5-4) as quarterback John Wolford threw for 331 yards, rushed for 59 and accounted for three touchdowns of his own (two passing). Running back Matt Colburn became the first back to run for 100 yards against Notre Dame this season, finishing with 120.
"Winning is hard, especially in November," Kelly said. "Anytime you find a way to win a football game - Wake Forest executed its offense extremely well - is helpful. This game can humble you in a heartbeat."
Adams left the field late in the first quarter and Wimbush joined him late in the first half as Notre Dame Stadium grew silent in a hurry. Wimbush was hit on his planted left leg after a 28-yard gain but suffered a contusion to his left hand when he did a flip. He was fitted with a pad and returned for the second half.
Meanwhile, Adams, who was fifth nationally with 1,169 yards entering the game, exited in this first quarter after gaining just 22 yards on five carries. Just before halftime he was seen riding a stationary bike. There were reports on social media that Adams was in the team's concussion protocol, which Kelly denied afterward.
"Josh has had a busy week with exams and other things," Kelly said. "He just wasn't feeling right."
Adams did not return and didn't need to. The nation's No. 6 rushing offense, averaging just under 318 yards a game, gained 380 on the capable legs of Wimbush, Deon McIntosh (63 yards) and four others who surpassed Adams' output.
"We could not get a stop on third down to save our life," Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. "The amount of big plays that we gave up on defense today is not acceptable. That was the story of the day."
Wake Forest: Wolford and the offense had another big game. A week after totaling 625 total yards, with Wolford throwing for 461 yards and 5 TDs, he threw for 331 against the Irish. But the Demon Deacons fell behind early and remain one win short of bowl eligibility.
Notre Dame: The Irish showed their depth after the injuries to Wimbush and Adams. Sophomore backup QB Ian Book threw a 1-yard TD pass when Wimbush got hurt and then rushed for 54 yards after Wimbush's day was over. Tony Jones Jr. (59), wide receiver Kevin Stepherson (42) and Dexter Willliams (33) all surpassed Adams, who was hurt a day after Notre Dame began selling "33Trucking" hats (Adams wears No. 33) to tout his Heisman Trophy candidacy and aid a hardship fund for athletes.
Notre Dame was third in the first College Football Playoff rankings behind No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama and just ahead of No. 4 Clemson and did nothing to hurt its position. The next rankings will be released Tuesday night.
For the second straight week, Notre Dame sophomore cornerback Julian Love had an interception and three passes broken up. He now has three interceptions - and his first two went for touchdowns. He has broken up a team-record 14 passes this season; the previous mark of 13 set in 1969 by Clarence Ellis.
"Physically, Julian's head and shoulders above most of the DBs," Kelly said. "And then he's smart. You put those two things together it gives you the chance to be successful."
Wake Forest: Plays at Syracuse next Saturday.
Notre Dame: Plays at Miami next Saturday.
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