Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 40 of 55 OCT. 17, 2020 41 recently as 2016 thanks to Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, and even a No. 6 finish in 2004) and also Charlie Strong, who in his last two seasons in 2012-13 was 23-3 with back-to-back top-15 finishes. Now isn't the time yet. TALE OF THE TURNOVERS With quarterback Malik Cunning- ham, running back Javian Hawkins and wide receiver Tutu Atwell, Lou- isville's talent at those glamour posi- tions is among the tops in the ACC. Where problems have occurred this year is with turnovers, specifi- cally all by Cunningham (five in- terceptions, three fumbles). During their 1-2 start, the Cardinals were tied for 69th among the 75 teams ranked in turnovers lost (eight) and 68th in turnover margin (minus-five). Miami had zero turnovers to Lou- isville's two in the Hurricanes' 47-34 win Sept. 12, and then Cunningham threw three interceptions in the 23-20 defeat at Pitt. On the flip side, Notre Dame has been exceptional in recent years in this category. Last year, the Irish led the nation in fumbles recovered (19), and were fourth in both turn- overs generated (28, the most in the Brian Kelly era) and turnover margin (plus-1.31 per game). Through the first two games this season the Irish had only one turn- over and were seventh in turnover margin with plus-1.5 per contest. Nothing helps procure an upset more than the failure to protect the football. Entering this contest, that's a primary Notre Dame strength while it's been a shortcoming for Louisville. GOING FOR TWO On Nov. 22, 2014, Louisville be- came part of a dubious eight-year streak from 2009-16 where a first- time visitor to Notre Dame Stadium pulled off a stunning upset. Not even including the colossal collapse against 2-8 Syracuse on Se- nior Day 2008, the infamous string included setbacks to Connecticut in 2009, Tulsa in 2010, South Florida in 2011, the Cardinals in 2014 (one week after losing to a Northwestern squad that entered with a four-game losing streak while averaging 12.5 points per game) and finally Virginia Tech in 2016. Since September 2017, though, the Fighting Irish have achieved the sec- ond-longest winning streak at Notre Dame Stadium since opening in 1930, reaching 20 straight entering their matchup with Florida State Oct. 10. That streak trailed only Clemson and Ohio State. This year Louisville will attempt to become only the fourth team to win its first two appearances in Notre Dame Stadium. The other three were USC (1931 and 1933), Michigan (1942 and 1978) and Missouri (1972 and 1978). Last year Virginia Tech nearly joined that club when it held a 20-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame then put together a dramatic 87-yard march in 18 plays. The Irish converted a fourth-and-three and later a fourth- and-10 with a 26-yard completion to Chase Claypool, and capped the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ian Book. Kicker Jona- than Doerer 's extra point gave the Irish a 21-20 triumph. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: LOUISVILLE The Cardinals stunned the Fighting Irish 31-28 in South Bend in 2014 and will be looking to become only the fourth team to win its first two appearances at Notre Dame Stadium. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Predictions Todd Burlage: Notre Dame 35, Louisville 31 The Cardinals run well and pick their spots well for downfield shots. They were one of seven FBS teams to average 10 yards per pass attempt in 2019 and ranked third nationally in plays of at least 40 yards. The Notre Dame defense gets a good test but survives. Patrick Engel: Notre Dame 31, Louisville 20 Tutu Atwell, to me, is the most dangerous receiver the Irish will see this season. I don't think any Louisville points will come effortlessly, nor do I see Louisville's ho-hum defense holding Notre Dame to less than 30 points. Notre Dame's ability to halt Louisville's offense and force a couple field goals will be the dif- ference here. Andrew Mentock: Notre Dame 45, Louisville 28 Notre Dame is able to control the game by limiting the Louisville offense to just a few big plays, a major component of the Cardi- nals' offense. This is also the best the Fighting Irish wide receivers have looked all season, which leads to a high-scoring affair. Mike Singer: Notre Dame 38, Louisville 20 Louisville is going to keep fighting under second-year coach Scott Satterfield, but the Cardinals' defense is outmatched against the Fighting Irish. Their offense could provide some problems, though. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 38, Louisville 21 Along with Clemson and North Carolina, the Cardinals possess the most potent offense the Irish will face this season. Yet Pitt limited Louisville to merely 223 total yards during a 23-20 victory, highlighted by seven sacks. Holding them to less than 20 points would be a laudable effort.

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