Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-5) comes off a bye week still recovering from a heartbreaking 28-27 loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. The team squares off this week against one of the nation’s best in the #14 Utah Utes (8-1, 5-1 MWC) who come off a surprising thrashing at the hands of the TCU horned Frogs, 47-7.
The game will be broadcast nationwide on Sat, November 13th on NBC at 2:30 PM.
And without further ado here’s the preview Ladies and Gentlemen…..
Notre Dame Offense
True Freshman Tommy Rees takes over the reins of the spread offense from the sidelined Dyane Crist this week. This season Rees has a 61.9 completion percentage along with 413 yards, 4 TDs and 4 INTs.
With the injured starting RB Armando Allen out with an injury red shirt freshman Cierra Woods gets the starting nod this week. Woods is also adept as a receiver racking up 141 receiving yards to complement his 274 yards rushing. The Notre Dame Offensive Line leaves much to be desired. The unit has let up 17 sacks and only opens up for 113 yards a game for the 100th nationally ranked rushing attack.
All-American candidate WR Michael Floyd is ready and rested. His numbers as of yet this year: 55 catches for 728 yards and 8 TDs. Proving to be a sufficient replacement for the sidelined WR Theo Riddick is TJ Jones who has 22 catches for 287 yards and 3 TDs. TE Tyler Eifert will see more action replacing the injured TE Kyle Rudolph.
The Fighting Irish have one of the best kickers in the nation in David Ruffer. He has 18 straight field goals and is 13/13 on the season.
Notre Dame Defense
ILBs Manti T’eo and Carlo Calabrese, who just returned after missing some time, have combined for 159 tackles (T’eo accounting for 100), 12 TFL (“Tackle For a Loss”), and 2.5 sacks. Notre Dame’s other LBs, Kerry Neal and Darius Fleming have racked up 66 tackles, 9 TFL, and seven sacks along with an INT and several batted passes.
The Fighting Irish Defensive Line has been severely downgraded with the loss of staring NT Ian Williams. The squad has combined for 84 tackles, 11 TFL, 7 sacks and 3 passes broken up.
The secondary for Notre Dame has totaled 180 tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 8 INTs while allowing 228 yards per contest.
QB Jordan Wynn starts for Utah. He has racked up 1,579 yards, 14 TDs, 8 INTs, with a 65% completion rate. Wynn is coming off a very shaky performance last week against TCU where he threw for a paltry 148 yards and a couple of INTs. Utah has quality depth at QB however with Terrance Cain waiting in the wings.
The Utes have a dynamic RB tandem in Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata. The two have accrued 1,038 yards rushing and 15 TDs. The experienced Offensive Line is one of the best in the nation having yielded only 4 sacks and opening the way for 176 rushing yards a game and 23 TDs.
WRs Jereme Brooks and DeVonte Christopher pace the Utah Receiving corps with 1,032 yards and 9 TDs.
Kicker Joe Phillips is 9/10 on the season and 48/49 on XP’s.
The LB unit is an inexperienced one as all the starters from last year have been replaced. This group has 172 tackles, 12 TFL, 2.5 Sacks, an INT, and 2 passes broken up.
The D-lIne which goes for a 4-3 formation has 114 tackles, 12 TFL, 5 sacks and 2 passes broken up.
The secondary for Utah is also inexperienced one with few players returning from last year. The have allowed 189 yards per game, along with 169 tackles, 16 TFL, 7 sacks and 5 INTs. The squad is led by DB Lamar Chapman’s 9.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks. The Utes are 25th in the FBS in passing defense.
In spite of Utah’s rushing defense weakness the Irish do not have the potent running game to take advantage. Tommy Rees will give it a good go and hope to continue his hot streak by hooking up in the end zone with Floyd numerous times. The Notre Dame defense will have no cure for the Utah rushing and passing attack. Plus, Utah is coming off an embarrassing spanking last week at the hands of TCU and will want blood. Teams, like the Fighting Irish, tend to be lethargic and unmotivated after a week off. Notre Dame will have its hands full with the Utes and will come up way short. This will be their 12th consecutive lost to a ranked opponent.
Utah 31 Notre Dame 13