No. 16 Notre Dame was back in the elements for the second week in a row, but overcame offensive setbacks with a clutch game-winning drive by Ian Book and avoided an upset in a 21-20 win against Virginia Tech.
The Hokies led for much of the second half as a wintry mix fell from the sky. The conditions, combined with Notre Dame's struggles to run to the football against a tough Virginia Tech defense, brought back bad memories of the pervious week's loss to Michigan, and the angst of this week surrounding a program that was searching for its identity.
Book took a lot heat through the week but received the support of coach Brian Kelly, who did not entertain a quarterback controversy and insisted that the blame for the offense's struggles was to be shared across the entire team. Book scored all three of Notre Dame's touchdowns on Saturday against Virginia Tech, completing two through the air and rushing for the game-winning score with 29 seconds remaining.
Book had a prolific day, completing 29-of-53 passes for 341 yards and leading the team in rushing with 50 yards on 13 attempts. The reliance on the passing attack and Book's ability to scramble came as a result of an offense that struggled to establish the run against the Hokies defensive front. Book was left under pressure and often trusting leading receiver Chase Claypool (8 catches, 118 yards) to make plays over smaller defensive backs.
There are no moral victories in football, but Virginia Tech's upset bid serves as affirmation for the late-season surge in Blacksburg. Justin Fuente said that this year's Hokies team had to do a lot of soul searching after getting blown out by Duke 45-10 at home, and they were able to turn things around with back-to-back wins in thrillers against Miami and North Carolina. Virginia Tech is 5-3 overall but right in the thick of the race for the ACC Coastal Division and a shot at playing for the ACC Championship for the first time since 2015.