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Ian Book Starring in Spotlight

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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With Book, college football is watching the pinnacle of a truly memorable career. It appears there may be even more to come.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book continues to play really well. Over his past six games, dating back to a disappointing performance against Louisville, he has been one of the nation's premier signal callers. In recent outings against Syracuse, North Carolina, Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh, Book is completing over 70% of his passes for 1,668 yards, with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions, adding 339 rushing yards and another three scorew on the ground in that span, all wins. 

In addition to a dominant defense and the consistent production of star running back Kyren Williams, who now has over 1,000 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, Book's rise is helping to make Notre Dame a leading national championship contender. The high-profile ACC Championship Game rematch between Notre Dame and Clemson, this time with Book facing off against likely 2021 number one overall NFL Draft pick Trevor Lawrence, has obvious storylines and implications. 

Book recently outdueled North Carolina's Sam Howell, helping the Fighting Irish to 478 total yards and 25 first downs against the Tar Heels. The go-ahead drive, for Notre Dame, a lead the Fighting Irish never gave back, came on a 13-play, 97-yard march; Book completed six passes along the way. He, in the fourth quarter, completed a crazy shotput-heave to Michael Mayer to convert a key third down. Book later closed the game out with another 3rd-down conversion, this one to Georgia Takacs, right to the UNC goaline.

On the big stage, Book, post-Clemson, was poised and proficient once again.

Five total touchdowns is how Book finished the regular season, leading Notre Dame to 45 points and 568 yards at Syracuse. The win was his 30th as a starter for the Fighting Irish, remarkably the most-ever at Notre Dame. Such distinctions are reserved for all-time greats, which Book is proving to be. 

What is amazing, with regards to Book, is that he has now led Notre Dame to an astonishing 16 wins in a row. Included in that stretch are victories over nationally-ranked Navy and North Carolina, in addition to the iconic triumph over top-ranked Clemson. ACC newcomers for a year, the Fighting Irish still haven't lost a league game at 9-0 in conference. Book is a big reason why. In two acc showcases, he has paced his team to two signature wins and nearly 1,000 total yards.

Even at a place like Notre Dame where it takes history to make history, Book is saving himself a place. He now has 8,500 career passing yards with 70 touchdowns and 1,498 rushing yards with 16 scores. Book will reach the 10,000 total yards on his very next play. At this point, he is one of just five quarterbacks this millennium with 8,500 passing yards and a career passer rating of at least 148 and 1,400 rushing yards at 4.4 yards per carry, joining J.T. Barrett, Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota and Deshaun Watson.

Book, with his name and numbers all over the record books, has already made the College Football Playoff once, has a win over a number one team on his resume, is part of the nation's longest current winning streak, has advanced to the ACC Championship Game and, it at least looks like, he will play in another final four. At this point, Book, one of the nation's most experienced quarterbacks, has undefeated Notre Dame ranked number two in the national polls entering mid-December.

With Book, college football is watching the pinnacle of a truly memorable career. It appears there may be even more to come. 

Here is how the Fighting Irish, still without a conference loss, finished the season: they defeated three consecutive opponents who entered their respective contests a combined 18-5, averaging 41 points per game in those three matchups, then, after a bit of a slow start against Syracuse, they scored 45 total points with Book accounting for five touchdowns. That has become the new program standard. Notre Dame is sprinting into Saturday. Charlotte awaits as the next big stage.    

This is a team, an offense and a quarterback, still on the rise as they have neared the top of the national polls. 

Notre Dame is here. Book is leading the way.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports