Jalen Elliott knocked the ball loose from Vanderbilt receiver Kalija Lipscomb with 1:07 remaining to give Notre Dame a fourth-down stop and No. 8 Notre Dame held on for a 22-17 victory over the Commodores on Saturday.
Kyle Shurmur threw for 326 yards and one touchdown for Vanderbilt (2-1), rallying his team back from a 16-3 halftime deficit. His fourth-and-4 pass from the Notre Dame 31 to Lipscomb, who caught a game-high 11 passes for 89 yards, was nicely thrown and the receiver almost made a reaching catch at the 11. But the safety Elliott, with some help from the ground, knocked the ball loose and incomplete.
"I'm proud of the effort and the way we competed," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We're trying to find our identity on offense. We're far from where we want to be on the offensive line and as an offense. Our defense is good but not a great defense yet. But there are a lot of positives to take from this."
Vanderbilt finished with 420 yards to 380 for the Irish, who did not turn the ball over but got three from the Commodores. Notre Dame, which entered the game 104th in rushing offense at 124.5 yards per game, finished with 245 rushing yards.
Tony Jones Jr. finished with 118 yards on 17 carries for Notre Dame (3-0). He also caught two passes from quarterback Brandon Wimbush for 56 yards.
"That's an SEC team and we ran well today," Kelly added.
Elliott had a pair of interceptions last week as Notre Dame held off Ball State, a 34 1/2-point underdog, in a 24-16 victory. Vanderbilt was a 14-point underdog but did not play like one.
Wimbush, who had 297 passing yards but three interceptions in the 24-16 victory against Ball State, threw for 122 yards and added 84 yards on the ground, including a 13-yard scramble for a touchdown as Notre Dame took an early 10-0 lead late in the first quarter. After being sacked four times and finishing with minus 7 rushing yards against Ball State, Wimbush was not sacked and did not make a turnover.
"I think we're still trying to find our identity," Wimbush said of the offensive play. "We fought play in and play out."
Notre Dame got a 2-yard TD pass from backup quarterback Ian Book to tight end Nic Weishar early in the fourth quarter for a 22-10 lead, the Irish struggled over the last three quarters and had to hold on.
"We have to keep our foot on the pedal for all four quarters," Wimbush added.
Indiana 38, Ball State 10: Stevie Scott did the heavy lifting Saturday. Peyton Ramsey played the perfect conductor.
Together, they kept Indiana in complete sync.
Scott ran for 114 yards and scored twice in his second career start while Ramsey threw for 173 yards and ran for another touchdown to lead the Hoosiers past the Cardinals.
"When the line creates holes, I just have to explode through them," Scott said. "We've just got to keep it up, just consistency, just dominate every opponent we have and just play hard."
He needed only 18 carries to follow last week's near-record performance with another 100-yard game. He's the fastest true freshman in school history to top the 100-yard mark in consecutive weeks.
And this time, Scott had plenty of help.
Ramsey was 20 of 27 and ran six times for 43 yards including a 5-yard score with 22 seconds left in the first half.
Freshman Ronnie Walker Jr. had an 18-yard TD run on the first carry of his college career, while Indiana's defense forced eight punts and allowed just 347 total yards.
Even the special teams got involved, with J-Shun Harris returning a punt 86 yards for the third touchdown return of his career and nearly scoring again early in the fourth quarter.
As a result, the Hoosiers are 3-0 for only the second time in a decade and will start 2019 with a six-game regular-season winning streak against non-conference foes.
Coach Tom Allen couldn't have created a better starting script.
"Huge to get the first three," he said. "The way the offense did some great work in Week 1, defense really came back in Week 2, sealed the win. Week 3, all three phases came together and played well. That's what you've got to do."
Ball State (1-2) failed to finish on another resounding note. It has now lost five straight to Big Ten schools and back-to-back games against in-state foes.
And after taking a 3-0 lead, the Cardinals never got close.
"When I say that's not Ball State football, that's not taking anything away from Indiana and the way they executed," coach Mike Neu said. "But for us, that's not what we've seen from our football team through training camp and through the first couple of weeks, so we've got to learn from our mistakes."
Indiana tied the score on a 21-yard field goal, took the lead on Scott's 1-yard TD plunge and started pulling away when Harris returned the punt for a TD to make it 17-3 early in the second quarter.
Ramsey's scoring run made it 24-3 at halftime and the Hoosiers quickly closed it out when Walker made it 31-3.
Even the Cardinals' lone touchdown came with a near blunder as a replay review was used to see if James Gilbert dropped the ball before crossing the goal line on a 27-yard TD run. The officials didn't have enough evidence to overturn it.
Scott closed out the scoring with an 11-yard run.
"He just continues to impress me," Allen said.
Riley Neal was 12 of 24 for 115 yards for Ball State, while Gilbert ran 16 times for 89 yards.