This is a game the Fighting Irish will look back on with a huge sigh of relief when their season comes to an end.No. 10 Notre Dame took down No. 18 Virginia, 35-20, in South Bend on Saturday to move to 3-1 on the season, but they did it while trailing at the half, failing to recover an onside kick to start the second half and looking pretty lackadaisical for much of the game after losing its first contest of the year to Georgia last week. This was by no means a walk in the park for the Irish, who ran into a team in the Cavaliers (4-1) that looked like the better of the two over the first 30 minutes.But the Fighting Irish pulled away in the second half and that had everything to do with the pass rush. Related News Rondale Moore injury update: Purdue star receiver (leg) carted to locker room We say that to say this: Virginia has a pretty darn good football team, and Notre Dame is also coming off of a very tough matchup with one of the best teams in the country in Georgia.While Notre Dame didn’t play well this week, it doesn’t mean that makes Virginia any less good. The Cavaliers played very well in this game. They made some mistakes but to go into South Bend and push a top-10 team for the better part of three quarters is pretty darn impressive.At the same time, the Irish didn’t look particularly good. Quarterback Ian Book was just OK, the offensive line more or less didn’t look great, and honestly, on a one-game sample size, the Cavaliers appeared to have the better skill-position players. But don’t let either of those storylines warp what this game really told us: Virginia has a good team despite how Notre Dame played. It doesn’t take a lot of evaluation to come to that conclusion so don’t overthink it. Three takeaways from No. 10 Notre Dame’s win over No. 18 VirginiaNotre Dame’s front seven bailed out the IrishThe Irish were by no means leaps and bounds better than Virginia in this game. Cavaliers quarterback Bryce Perkins was really good in the first half as were his wide receivers while the Irish’s offense was really mediocre. But if there was any clear mismatch in this game it was Notre Dame’s front seven vs. Virginia’s pass protection.In the first half, the Cavaliers more or less dominated the game. Their quick passing game consistently moved the chains and their offense controlled the clock at will. But the Irish got a strip-sack in the second quarter which gave the offense a short field and a quick score. Apart from that sequence, the Cavaliers won the first half 17-7.Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara up to two sacks today with #Vikings GM Rick Spielman in the house, per @TJamesNDI. Okwara is a top-40ish prospect. pic.twitter.com/xHJzRNsa2Y— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) September 28, 2019Then in the third quarter, the offense for Notre Dame once again struggled but the front seven bailed the Irish out again. They got two strip-sacks, one which set up the offense inside the 5-yard line and another returned for a score. Through three quarters Notre Dame’s defensive front essentially set up 21 of the team’s 28 points. Ian Book better be buying his defensive line steaks for the next week.Just dawned on me that a Tagovailoa could win the Heisman AND the @piesmantrophy. (That’s Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Tua’s cousin.) pic.twitter.com/BWnHZq3iGF— Mark Cooper (@mark_cooperjr) September 28, 2019JULIAN OKWARA WITH ANOTHER STRIP SACK!!ADE OGUNDEJI WITH THE SCOOP AND SCORE!!!IRISH UP 28-17!!! pic.twitter.com/gqbCrI1low— ND Whiteboard (@ND_Whiteboard) September 28, 2019Cavaliers abandoned what was workingThe game plan worked for Virginia in the first half. Perkins is a good passer, but he is especially good at getting the ball out of his hands quickly and letting his receivers go to work. In the first 30 minutes, that’s what the Cavaliers did a lot of and it set up a couple of nice touchdown passes.Bryce Perkins to Joe Reed for the 6 yard TOUCHDOWN🔥Virginia taking the lead early on Notre Dame#VirginiavsNotreDame pic.twitter.com/Qe7JCKKJO2— The Sideline Report (@SidelineReport_) September 28, 2019Bryce Perkins WANTS THE UPSET😲He finds Hasise Dubois and Virginia (+10.5) leads Notre Dame!pic.twitter.com/jFUXmdaobg— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) September 28, 2019Perkins was 18-of-22 passing for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Virginia led 17-14. In the second half, whether by design or an adjustment by the Irish defense, Perkins was holding the ball longer and longer and getting hit repeatedly. By the end of the third quarter, the Irish had eight sacks including the two strip-sacks that led to all of the Irish’s 14 points in those 15 minutes.So why did the Cavaliers go away from what was working? That’s a question their fans will be asking for hours after this one wraps up.Virginia is good and Notre Dame was also one week off a tough gameWe always want to speak in absolutes about football. We want a game to be a statement about which team was good and which was bad, who played well and who didn’t, but the truth is always somewhere in between even if we want every game to be some kind of grand declaration.