SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- If voters in any of the polls associated with the BCS standings happened to miss the Notre Dame football team's win over Wake Forest on Saturday, the final score pretty much tells the story.
After a season full of narrow escapes, the third-ranked Irish (11-0) were finally able dominate in a 38-0 conquest over the Demon Deacons (5-6).
How that plays nationally won't be known for sure until the new polls come out Sunday.
In the meantime, the Irish can bask in the knowledge that they put their best foot forward.
"We have a paradigm for winning," Irish coach Brian Kelly said. "It's something we talk about in our locker room. It's called: Four quarters of winning. It starts with getting off to a quick start. We talk about getting off to that quick start (and) how important that is in the first quarter. Second quarter is attention to detail. The third quarter is effort and enthusiasm. The fourth quarter is finish strong.
"That came together in this football game more than any game we've played this year."
In just over two quarters, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson threw for 346 yards (20 of 30, 3 TDs, 1 interception). Running back Cierre Wood rushed for 150 yards and a TD before garbage time set in.
"I think we're playing really good football at this point offensively and defensively," Kelly said. "Our special teams have been OK, but I think offensively we're growing. We're very explosive. We had nine explosive plays in the first half. I think if you can match with what we've done defensively, we're playing pretty good football."
Notre Dame's defense, ranked No. 1 in the country in points allowed, lived up to its reputation by sending Wake Forest punter Alex Kinal on the field early and quite often.
While pitching their first shutout of the season, the Irish defense limited Wake Forest to 55 yards on the ground and 209 total.
"We knew coming in, we were going to have issues with their defense," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "Everybody has. They might be the best defensive football team in the country. We've struggled this year offensively. So we knew that was going to be a challenge for us coming in. What we needed to do is make more plays defensively and try to stay in it."
All that's left within the Irish control is next week's season-ending sojourn to Southern Cal, a team that lost to rival UCLA on Saturday. Focus will become much easier.
Saturday's effort got the job done early, then allowed for Notre Dame to switch to cruise control.
With Tommy Rees taking over for Golson midway through the third quarter, the Irish extended the blowout to 38-0 with a 48-yard burst by Wood that was pivotal in a drive that George Atkinson finished off from 9 yards.
A 38-yard connection between Golson and tight end Tyler Eifert marched the ball inside the Wake Forest 10. Three passes into the end zone came up empty, which allowed Kyle Brindza to come on for a 25-yard field goal that pushed the score to 31-0 at halftime.
It didn't take long in the second quarter for TJ Jones to get into the act. The Irish receiver was wide open on a 34-yard pass from Golson that ended in a 28-0 lead.
Notre Dame's assault in the first quarter put all phases of its offense on display. Two drives buoyed by the run were followed by one premised on the pass. Fifth-year receiver John Goodman got behind the Wake Forest defense and hauled in a 50-yard pass for a 21-0 lead.
Six minutes into the game, Notre Dame asserted itself.
Wood was a dominant figure in the first two Irish drives. On their first possession, Wood took an option pitch from Golson and ran 68 yards for a 7-0 lead. Wake Forest fumbled on its first possession, giving Notre Dame the ball near midfield. A 20-yard burst by Wood to the Demon Deacons 1 set the table for Golson to loft a short pass to Eifert for a 14-0 advantage.