New No. 1? Notre Dame crushes Wake Forest

Notre Dame crushed Wake Forest, 38-0, Saturday afternoon, then got the help it needed later that night.

The third-ranked Fighting Irish (11-0) improved to 11-0 for the first time since 1989 and remain the only undefeated team eligible to play for the national title after Kansas State and Oregon suffered their first losses.

Kansas State, the top-ranked team in the latest BCS poll, was handed a 52-24 loss by Baylor, while second-ranked Oregon dropped a 17-14 overtime decision to Stanford.

The outcomes mean Notre Dame will surely jump from its No. 3 ranking and control its destiny in reaching its first-ever BCS title game -- the only obstacle left being next week's matchup at USC.

Everett Golson threw for a career-high 346 yards with three touchdowns for Notre Dame, which swept its six-game home slate as well.

Cierre Wood amassed 150 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, while T.J. Jones and Tyler Eifert each caught a touchdown pass and added 97 and 85 receiving yards, respectively, on six grabs apiece.

Notre Dame, already the top-ranked scoring defense in the nation coming in, pitched its first shutout since a 35-0 victory over Nevada on Sept. 5, 2009 and faces its final regular season test next Saturday at USC.

"We saved our best for the last home game," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. "The goal for all of us was to be undefeated this year at home. ... We feel really good about the accomplishment."

Wake Forest (5-6), blanked for the second time this season, went in the hole, 21-0, in the first quarter and never recovered, getting outgained, 584-209.

Tanner Price completed 22-of-33 passes for 153 yards in the loss.

"This was just a day where Notre Dame was too much for us to handle," Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said.

Notre Dame's seniors did not disappoint in their final home game. Theo Riddick kept the opening drive alive by taking a swing pass 24 yards on 3rd-and-11 from the 8-yard line. On the next snap, Wood, a fellow senior, took an option pitch and sprinted 68 yards for a touchdown.

Senior linebacker Carlo Calabrese put a big hit on Josh Harris and forced a fumble on Wake Forest's first possession, and the Irish converted the turnover at midfield into a score, as Eifert made a tough 2-yard grab in the end zone.

John Goodman, also making his final home appearance, made an acrobatic catch on Golson's underthrown 50-yard bomb for yet another score with 4:28 remaining in the opening quarter.

Golson was intercepted early in the second quarter, but later in the half found Jones behind the secondary for a 34-yard TD.

Eifert, who has one year left of eligibility but is expected to declare for the NFL Draft, caught a 38-yard pass to set up Kyle Brindza's 25-yard field goal just before the break.

George Atkinson III capped a 9-play, 80-yard drive with 3:30 left in the third quarter, and the Irish were able to honor their seniors in the final frame.

Kelly subbed out a trio of indelible defensive players early on, including Kapron Lewis-Moore, Zeke Motta and Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te'o, who helped douse Kelly in Gatorade in the closing seconds.

"That was our way of showing our appreciation for our head coach," Te'o said. "I'm just very lucky to play for him."

Game Notes

The Irish posted their first undefeated home schedule since 1998 and 26th at Notre Dame Stadium ... Notre Dame has opened a season 11-0 four times in its 125-year history ... Eifert broke Ken MacAfee's 35-year school record for most career receptions by a tight end. He has 130 career catches for 1,710 yards -- 49 yards less than MacAfee ... Golson completed 20-of-30 passes ... Wake Forest will try to become bowl eligible for the fifth time in seven seasons next Saturday against Vanderbilt.