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No. 9 Irish takes on Bowling Green for first time

Field Level Media

October 01, 2019 at 3:41 pm.

No. 9 Notre Dame has won 13 consecutive home games as it prepares to welcome Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon.

What is the Fighting Irish’s secret to success in South Bend, Ind.?

“It starts with you don’t get lucky,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters. “You’ve got to win those games. We’ve had some close games that we have had to find a way to win. …

“We love playing in front of our fans; our students in particular are there. And it’s been a mantra of ours in our offseason to protect our house. We feel as though it’s part of what we do in our workouts in the summer. We rally around that; we work out in the stadium; we run the stairs. It’s something that’s very, very important to us.”

Notre Dame (3-1) will look to extend its home winning streak in the first-ever meeting with Bowling Green (1-3). The schools are separated by about 160 miles but are worlds apart in football tradition.

The Falcons are coming off three straight losses to Kansas State, Louisiana Tech and Kent State by a combined margin of 149-27. They were about 45-point underdogs early this week.

Bowling Green coach Scot Loeffler said he is focused on progress, not a point spread.

“This week’s all about us,” Loeffler told reporters. “It’s about becoming more competitive. It’s about becoming a master of our trades and playing with more enthusiasm and juice. It’s all about us right now. (We’ve) just got to worry about what we can control right now and go from there.”

Notre Dame is coming off a 35-20 win over then-No. 18 Virginia. The Fighting Irish have scored at least 35 points in three of four games this season and have limited opponents to 23 points or fewer in all four games.

Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book has passed for 993 yards, with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has been supported by a sturdy ground game that is led by Tony Jones Jr. (279 rushing yards, four TDs).

Kelly said Book has been good and can get better.

“I think in some areas he’s made really good progress,” Kelly said. “I think there is room for improvement in others. But I could probably say that about a lot of players. Again, and I think we all know this, the spotlight is on the quarterback, so the scrutiny on him is 10 times (more) than it is on other positions. He knows that.”

Bowling Green is led by quarterback Darius Wade, who has thrown for 664 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. The former Boston College quarterback also has rushed for 87 yards. Davon Jones leads the ground game with 205 yards, averaging 4.8 per carry.

Although the Falcons never have faced the Fighting Irish, Loeffler has gone up against Notre Dame once before as an assistant coach. He was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Boston College when it hosted Notre Dame in 2017. The Fighting Irish pulled away for a 49-20 victory in that contest.