No. 3 Notre Dame will start quarterback Brandon Wimbush against Florida State on Saturday for Ian Book, who is nursing an undisclosed injury, two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.
Book is not expected to play after taking a hard hit to the back and ribs last week against Northwestern, according to the people who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement was made.
Book replaced Wimbush as the starter in the fourth game of the season for the Fighting Irish (9-0, No. 3 CFP). He is completing 74.5 percent of his passes, tops in the FBS, for 1,824 yards, with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. With Book starting, the Fighting Irish have averaged 38 points per game. They averaged 23.3 in Wimbush’s three starts.
Wimbush, a senior, was the starter last season for the Irish, but his inconsistent and inaccurate passing led to coach Brian Kelly making the switch to Book. Wimbush has completed 50.8 percent for his career, with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has been an effective runner, with 1,044 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Notre Dame goes into its final home game of the season looking to stay undefeated and in position to reach the College Football Playoff. The Seminoles (4-5) have struggled to defend the pass this season, allowing 23 touchdown throws and 282 yards per game, but they have been stingy against the run (2.84 yards per carry).
“We watched film on them throughout the entire year,” Florida State coach Willie Taggart said. “We’ve seen Wimbush play and know what to expect out of him, too. The offense hasn’t changed much from that standpoint.”
Florida State has its own uncertainty at quarterback after James Blackman filled in for Deondre Francois last week. Taggart has been noncommittal about his starter, but Francois has said he expects to start.
The Irish finish the season with games against No. 13 Syracuse (7-2) at Yankee Stadium in New York and at Southern California (5-4).
AP freelance writer Bob Ferrante in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed.
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