Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-4) stumble into this week's game after a loss at the hands of the Navy Midshipmen 35-17 at the Meadowlands last week. They face a ready Tulsa Golden Hurricane squad (4-3, 2-2 C-USA) that demolished the Tulane Green Wave 52 – 24.
It must be mentioned that heavy on the minds and hearts of the Notre Dame community and that of the NCAA at large is the untimely death this week of Notre Dame team videographer Declan Sullivan.
This game will be broadcast Saturday, October 29th at 2:30 PM from South Bend on NBC.
Here is this week's Notre Dame, Tulsa Preview
Notre Dame Offense
Dayne Crist had a less than stellar game against Navy passing for 178 yards and one touchdown. He also threw two interceptions late when the score was close.
It was difficult for Crist to run an offense missing its key parts in its passing arsenal of TE Kyle Rudolph, WR Theo Riddick and WR Michael Floyd . WR Duval Kamara (56 yards receiving), and WR T.J. Jones (53 yards receiving, 1 TD) attempted to pick up the slack last week to no avail.
The Fighting Irish running game was stopped short. It was paced by Armando Allen’s pedestrian 66 yards on 11 carries and no TDs. Notre Dame’s rushing attack is ranked near the bottom of all NCAA teams averaging a paltry 111 yards a game this season.
The team totaled a 360 yards of total offense or 30 below its average of 390.
The Fighting Irish bad luck on offense should be reversed with the probable return of star WR Micheal Floyd and his 624 yards receiving and 6 receiving touchdowns.
Notre Dame Defense
The Fighting Irish defense yet again showed its weakness against the run. The team let up 367 rushing yards (the most ever tallied by Navy against Notre Dame) including a 200 yard rushing day for FB Alexander Teich. Navy totaled 438 yards on the day and completed 10 of 13 conversions on third down.
The loss of Notre Dame Nose Tackle Ian Williams hurt the Irish defense in stopping the Navy run.
The team’s triple option proved too much against the Notre Dame run stopping defense that will be tested again against a superior running team in Tulsa.
This week the Irish hope to limit Tulsa’s scoring to their average yield of 25 points and 392 yards a game.
The Golden Hurricane offense is helmed by QB G.J. Kinne. His 1,855 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and 6 interceptions lead the 30th best passing attack in the nation. Kinne is a threat on the ground as well with four rushing touchdowns. Last week Kinne threw for 200 yards for 2 scores and no interceptions.
His two main targets include WR Damarius Johnson and RB Charles Clay (27 catches for 337 yards, 6 TDs) . Clay caught four balls for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns against Tulane.
The Tulsa rushing attack is ranked 13th highest in the nation, averaging 221 yards on the ground each contest. It is bolstered by Sophmore RB Alex Singleton (306 yards and five touchdowns). Singleton scored twice last week on the Green Wave.
Johnson is an effective rusher as well adding over 300 yards on the ground this season to his 300 plus receiving yards.
The defense is very porous. It’s ranked 80th nationally in points allowed, giving up roughly 29 points a game. It all surrenders 443 yards a game of total offense. Against Tulane, the Tulsa defense surrendered 527 yards.
Up front the defense is solid, having only allowed 113 yards average rushing this year. They have also totaled 44 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks.
The secondary is another story. Teams are averaging 330 yards passing against the Golden Hurricane and they have allowed 19 passing touchdowns. Tulsa should be wary of the possible return of Fighting Irish WR Michael Floyd.
The sad departure of Declan Sullivan will play a factor in Saturday’s game. Will the team be distracted or become more motivated? I figure it will be the latter also considering the BCS bowl implications of this game as the Irish need ten wins for a berth this year and can’t afford another loss.
Michael Floyd’s return and a weak Tulsa secondary are in Notre Dame’s favor this week. The running attack and run defense will have to both step up and Crist must play turnover- and mistake-free football for the Fighting Irish to pull this one out.
Notre Dame 31 Tulsa 18