Game Prediction: #4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Louisville Cardinals
The fourth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish host the Louisville Cardinals this weekend as they look to improve to 4-0. Louisville comes in with a 1-3 record, but the Cardinals are talented and have an explosive offense.
Notre Dame will need to play better than it did a week ago during a 42-26 victory over Florida State, but there's a reason the Irish are 17-point favorites.
The Irish Breakdown staff has broken down the game, and now its time to make predictions.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Notre Dame 44, Louisville 27
Notre Dame has had issues with mobile quarterbacks for the last few seasons, and early on I think they will have some problems with Louisville and Malik Cunningham. It's not just that Cunningham is a talented player, but it's that he has such a strong supporting cast.
Running back Javian Hawkins is electric, and he's masterful working the outside zone/stretch concepts. If you focus too much on stopping him the Cardinals can then hurt you with wideouts Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick. It's hard to defend all of those weapons, but Notre Dame has the talent up front to make it happen. If the Irish play clean they should be able to make enough plays and force enough turnovers to keep Louisville relatively in check.
Offensively, I expect the Fighting Irish to dominate. Quarterback Ian Book struggled mightily in this game a year ago, but I expect him to make up for it this weekend. Louisville's pass defense is abysmal, and Book will build on his improved performance against the Seminoles. He'll start fast, hit some shots downfield and take pressure off the run game, which will put the game away in the second half.
This game is going to be competitive for awhile, but I think the Irish pull away in the second half.
VINCE DeDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Notre Dame 52, Louisville 17
The more and more I think about this game the more I think the Irish offense will be able to pick its poison against this Louisville defense. The numbers are actually very kind to that group, as the Cardinals are giving up just 156.8 yards per game on the ground. I think the ND front is going to gash the Cardinals in the run game for 300+ yards.
Now if offensive coordinator Tommy Rees decides he wants to throw the ball then they will excel in that regard. Too many receivers have been let loose in the previous four games for it not to happen on Saturday. I think they focus on the run game in this one and truly dominate.
There are some concerns with the defense right now but DC Clark Lea has earned my trust enough that I think they will get it fixed in time for quarterback Malik Cunningham. They need to figure out the Buck linebacker spot and hopefully all candidates are available at the same time. This one should be over at halftime.
BRIAN SMITH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Louisville 21
The Irish will do what they do best, run the football. Louisville struggles to stop the run, and Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams will have another 100-yard performance.
The Irish defense will have its hands full with the skill talent Louisville possesses, but Louisville is a mistake-prone offense that will commit a couple of turnovers, and the Irish offense will benefit from.
JP SCOTT, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 41, Louisville 27
Early on, I was more worried about this game. After seeing each team play a couple of games, I'm less-concerned from an Irish point of view. Notre Dame should have no issues moving the ball on the ground and controlling the tempo. On defense the Irish front seven is going to cause a lot of problems for the Cardinals in the trenches. I like Notre Dame big in what I thought leading up to the season might be the second-toughest game on the schedule.
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