Notre Dame gets its blowout win at home over Wake Forest


Notre Dame gets its blowout win at home over Wake Forest

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It took until the final home game of the season, but the Irish finally blew an opponent out at Notre Dame Stadium.

Everett Golson was spectacular, dismantling Wake Forest's secondary as Notre Dame cruised to a 38-0 win. It was easily the best game of the season for the redshirt freshman, with his only mistake coming on an ill-advised heave toward the end zone in the second quarter that went for an interception.

But Golson completed 20 of 30 passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns, frequently linking up with Irish receivers downfield as Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin continued to open up the playbook for the first-year starter.

"We showed our explosiveness and what we could do on the field," wide receiver John Goodman said. "We had a lot of spurts of that throughout the season but I think really, tonight that showed a lot throughout the whole game."

Golson completed six passes to tight end Tyler Eifert for the third straight week, with the senior captain racking up 85 yards and a touchdown. T.J. Jones caught six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, while Goodman caught a 50-yard touchdown as well.

Cierre Wood, playing in potentially his final game at Notre Dame Stadium, rushed 11 times for 150 yards and a touchdown, which was a 68-yard dash in the first quarter.

"I think we're playing really good football at this point offensively and defensively," coach Brian Kelly said. "Our special teams have been okay, but I think offensively we're growing. We're very explosive. We had nine explosive plays in the first half. I think if you can match with what we've done defensively, we're playing pretty good football."

It was Notre Dame's first home rout of the 2012 season, with the team's 38-point margin of victory larger than the combined margins in the Irish's five other home wins (23 points).

"You can never look past one team, because if you lose then what, you drop in rankings, you're not going to get where you want to be and that's the 'ship, so you can't look past one team," defensive tackle Louis Nix explained. "We almost looked past Pitt and the outcome was almost different, they could've won the game. You can't look past any team, you just gotta stay focused on the next one, and that's USC."

The blowout came off an emotional senior day celebration, which saw the Notre Dame student section packed with lei-wearing fans chanting Manti Te'o's name as he embraced his parents at midfield prior to the game.

"I was emotional, but I held it in and managed to hold it in," Te'o said. "But I shed a few tears when I embraced my parents."

Early in the fourth quarter, Kelly called a timeout to give seniors Kapron Lewis-Moore, Zeke Motta and Te'o proper ovations from the home crowd.

"I wanted to make it a special moment for the seniors on defense," Kelly said. "They have been obviously the rock. They've carried us while we were trying to find ourselves offensively. It just seemed to me to be a pretty good gesture to allow us to honor those seniors."

Last Sunday, Notre Dame received one first-place vote in the coaches poll. It was from their own coach, which looked like more of a ploy to boost Notre Dame's BCS number than anything else.

"I voted them number one in the country for a reason because I think they're the best team in the country," Kelly said. "And I think they played like that tonight."

Kelly won't be alone in voting Notre Dame No. 1 in the coaches poll released Sunday morning. And when the BCS standings are released Sunday night, they'll reveal Notre Dame as the No. 1 team in the country.

Just where Kelly had them a week ago.

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

When coach Joel Quenneville has put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together it’s usually been during the postseason.

It’s rare when it happens in the regular season and when it does, it seems like an in-case-of-emergency move. But in this case, it may be more of a get-the-captain’s-production-going move.

The Blackhawks made a few more line changes on Thursday, including combining Toews and Kane, as they prepared for Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Marian Hossa moved to right wing on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. Marcus Kruger and Nick Schmaltz flip-flopped as third- and fourth-line centers. Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman were the third-line wings while Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo were on the fourth line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the line changes, including Kane’s move to the first line, were because the Blackhawks continue to look for balance. To a point, that’s true; the Blackhawks still haven’t come close to getting that four-line rotation with which they’ve found so much success. But considering how successful the Toews and Kane combination has been for each, you’d have to think it’s to help bolster Toews’ point totals. Toews has just two assists through the first seven games.

“Right now I think Jonny, his production isn’t where you look at his play – we still always like the way he plays, he’s so useful in so any different ways,” Quenneville said. “I think maybe we get more balance on both lines. We’ve been trying a number of different looks in our top two groups there. over seven games we still need to be better in a lot of ways. hopefully we can find it.”

Still, if you can get your top players producing points, it’s worth a try. And Kane and Toews, regardless of how long they’ve been apart, usually click immediately upon reuniting.

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“Yeah, I guess change can be good in this sense. We can probably produce a little bit more offense and have the puck a little bit more throughout the game,” Kane said. “I’ve played with Jonny a bunch before. Obviously, not as much lately. But I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a fun way to play hockey. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the game, and probably in my mind, the easiest player to play with. It’ll be fun to get back out there with him and try to create something, try to produce and have some fun with it.”

As for that usual second line of Panarin, Anisimov and Kane, remember: as we’ve seen before, it can be put together again fast.

“They get a lot of shifts and a lot of looks. It’s not like we’re too far away from going back to it at any time. It’s always close and available,” Quenneville said. “Maybe we get more balance and a little more scoring across the board.”


- Defenseman Gustav Forsling (upper body) did not skate on Thursday and will not travel to New Jersey. Quenneville is still hoping Forsling can play on Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

- Forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) continues to improve. Quenneville said Desjardins could be skating in the next day or so.

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Devils.

Illini announce athletics hall of fame with Dick Butkus as first member


Illini announce athletics hall of fame with Dick Butkus as first member

Illinois announced Thursday the establishment of a university athletics hall of fame, and who better than Dick Butkus to be the first inductee?

According to the announcement, Illinois has discussed creating an athletics hall of fame to honor past student-athletes for years, but this is the first time it's been acted upon — not necessarily a surprise now that Josh Whitman, a former Illinois football player, is now in charge of the department.

"The University of Illinois has an incredible and storied history in athletics," Whitman said in the announcement. "Legendary names in sports history are found throughout the Illini record books, and we are excited to honor them in our new Hall of Fame. Since the athletic program's inception in 1890, some of the world's greatest athletes have competed in the orange and blue. Ultimately, as we begin to populate the Hall of Fame, our collection of recognized greats will compare favorably with that of any institution in the nation."

Butkus, of course, is the obvious choice to be the first announced member of the hall of fame's inaugural class.

Regarded by many as the best linebacker and defensive football player ever, Butkus spent three seasons in Champaign, twice a unanimous All-American selection. Playing both center and linebacker at Illinois, he finished in the top six in Heisman Trophy voting in 1963 and 1964, a shocking accomplishment for someone playing a position other than quarterback, running back or receiver.

Butkus made 374 tackles in three seasons and is one of just two players — the other being Red Grange — to have his number retired at Illinois. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (thanks to his remarkable career with the Bears), and the annual award for the best linebacker in college football is named after Butkus.

"The University of Illinois has played an extremely important role in my life," Butkus said in the announcement. "I have many life-long relationships that began at the U of I and have always been proud to call myself a Fighting Illini. To be recognized in the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame is a terrific feeling. I'm very proud of what my teams and I accomplished, including the 1963 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory. Thank you for this honor."

The Illini will announce the entire inaugural class in February, with induction coming next September.