The Fighting Irish will look to finally beat an opponent by more than four points, in a home game that’ll be played 1,300 miles away from the Notre Dame campus at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
The Washington State Cougars present a matchup that should be a cinch. If the Irish take this game seriously, and respect their opponent, they should be able to dominate this game from start to finish. Well, in a perfect world at least.
When Washington State has the ball:
Not very good news for the Irish; the Cougars starting quarterback, Jeff Tuel, is a freshman. For some unknown reason, Notre Dame is unable to contain this species of player. And to make matters even sticker, he’s coming off the best game of his young career in which he threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns. So don’t be shocked if they come out and throw it every down. That’s what I would do.
If they don’t sling it around early, they have a plethora of running backs to give the rock to. The cougars have four guys who have more than 20 carries on the year, yet average 77 rushing yards a game. And Notre Dame’s run D has been exceptional lately, so look for the ball to be in the air pretty often.
Tuel is good at distributing the ball to different receivers (they have 3 players who have caught more than 20 passes). Jared karstetter is their leading pass catcher with 337 yards and three touchdowns on the season. He’s going to be looking for holes in the middle of the Irish secondary, like Gunnell did last week. When he finds them, Tuel should be able to get him the ball and put some points on the board.
When Notre Dame has the ball:
Run, run, run. Pass, pass, pass. If the Irish stay balanced, there is no ceiling for the points they can total. I wrote yesterday that the Irish have scored 40 points only once since the 2006 season. If Allen Jr. gets the rush game going, the play action is going to torture the Cougars.
This could potentially be a 400 yard passing game for Clausen, who’s looking to bolster his Heisman stats. And don’t think Tate doesn’t want in on the action too. He’ll be looking for a big day against one of the worst defenses in the country.
Coach Weis also addressed Kyle Rudolph’s role in the offense earlier in the week. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make at least five catches in Saturday’s game. Two of which will go for TDs of course.
To sum it all up:
Tuel is going to be able to move the ball, no doubt about it. Nothing about the Irish secondary leads me to believe the contrary. But Clausen and the Irish will score too…a lot.
On paper, this game is completely one-sided. Wazzu is a 29-point underdog, so don’t think they’re not going to come out and play with a lot to prove. I just think the Alamodome turf will be way to fast for the Cougars. They'll watch Clausen, Tate and the Irish offense fly by them.
Prediction: ND 42, Wazzu 24