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Game Day: Louisville At Notre Dame

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The Cards head to South Bend looking to pull off one of the more significant upsets in program history.

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NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 22 Louisville at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (1-3, 0-3) AT NO. 4 NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (3-0, 2-0)

Game Time: 2:30 p.m.

Location: Notre Dame Stadium: South Bend, Ind.

Television: NBC

Announcers: Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Tony Dungy (analyst), and Kathryn Tappen (sideline)

Favorite: Notre Dame by 17

All-Time Series: Tied 1-1

Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 35-17 on Sept. 2, 2019 in Louisville

Series History:

Statistics:

Louisville Uniforms:

Louisville Depth Chart:

Relevant Videos:

About Notre Dame

via Keith Wynne

OFFENSE

Brian Kelly made a change on his coaching staff this off season that surprised many. He replaced his Offensive Coordinator with former Irish Quarterback Tommy Rees. Rees is only 28 years old but Kelly has to be happy with the early returns. Notre Dame has focused it’s offense on a strong running game and outstanding blocking. While they don’t have the consistency you need from their receivers, they have found a way to get their best players the football and they have delivered.

Ian Book returned at Quarterback this year after some speculation that he could turn pro. Book had a strong 2019 season and he’s started this season well with a 62% completion percentage and three rushing touchdowns. Book hasn’t been asked to do nearly as much this year and it has worked out well for the ND offense. While they haven’t been able to generate a lot of big plays in the passing game, they have put up a ton of points with ease.

The Running Back position is the key part of this offense in 2020. Kyren Williams was mentioned as a possible breakout freshman last season but that never materialized. He’s been a star so far this season. Williams is a dynamic and violent runner who can break big runs or grind out tough yardage. He’s been a walking highlight reel so far this year. The Irish also have C’Bo Flemister in the backfield and he ran for 127 yards against USF in his first action of the season. Chris Tyree had a big game against FSU and is second on the team in rushing. These guys are a more explosive version of what UofL saw against Georgia Tech and they have to find a way to slow them down.

Kyren Williams leads the team in receiving, so you can get an idea of how little ND has gotten from it’s receivers so far. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have talent outside, however. The Irish haven’t found a consistent guy at receiver but Javon McKinley could be that guy. The Irish have a talented group of young players who just haven’t found their way yet and Louisville has to make sure that they aren’t the reason they do.

Once again Notre Dame has an absurd group of Tight Ends and they have deployed all of them so far this season. Tommy Tremble plays a role similar to Marshon Ford and he is a great blocker on the edge. He can also catch the football and is the most athletic out of the group. Michael Mayer was the top ranked Tight End in the country last recruiting cycle and he’s been on the field plenty so far this season. He has shown real promise already and I think he could be a big factor in this game in the middle of the field.

The Notre Dame offense has been regarded as the best in the country and I can’t say I disagree. This offense avoids negative plays really well but more importantly, they give their skill players room to operate. Louisville has to disrupt their blocking schemes to have a chance at stopping this offense. If not, these guys will push people around and give Williams and the other Running Backs huge rushing lanes.

DEFENSE

The last time Louisville traveled to Notre Dame for a game, the Louisville offense was able to take advantage of a defense that was poorly coached. That won’t be the case this time around. Brian Kelly lost one of the best Defensive Coordinators in the country a couple of years ago but he had great fortune when he was able to hold onto Clark Lea when Mike Elko left. Lea has done a great job to maximize the talent that he has while also finding ways to put his best players in positions to make big plays.

Notre Dame lost some great talent and experience from last year because they had an large group of veteran contributors and stars. They still have Daelin Hayes at Defensive End but they have to be pleased with the younger players who have stepped up to fill the voids. Isaiah Foskey leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss and guys like Justin Ademilola have shown in the past that they can make plays. Louisville has had some issues blocking on the edge which has been a big issue with them being so reliant on the outside zone runs. They have to find a way to control these guys on Saturday.

The interior of ND’s defense is stout but not overly disruptive. Louisville found some success last year running the ball and I think the lack of play making from the interior defenders was a big factor in that. The Irish also don’t get a great pass rush from the inside though they do push the pocket pretty well. Louisville’s veterans on the Offensive Line have to win this matchup for the offense to have success.

The Irish defense starts to really improve when you get to the second level. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is an outstanding Outside Linebacker and he might be one of the best defenders UofL will see this year. He runs like a Cornerback and he has good instincts against the run and pass. I thought that he was the best player in the game last year and he’s only gotten better as he’s played more snaps. He will be a key in this game as UofL wants to work the edges on offense and they like to get their receivers in matchups against Linebackers and Safeties.

Drew White and Shayne Simon man the other Linebacker spots and both are very solid players who execute well and rack up tackles. Neither has been a player that you might label a “play maker” but you know exactly what you’re getting from them and they don’t make a lot of mistakes. I think that Louisville could possibly take advantage of these guys focusing on stopping the run. They might find some success with play action passes over the middle of the field.

The Cornerback spot for ND is a bit of a question mark with Nick McCloud at one spot and TaRiq Bracy opposite of him. McCloud was a starter at NC State before transferring and I think he’s a solid cover corner. He can be beaten by UofL’s receivers, though. Bracy is a little less experienced but he’s made some plays on the football over his career. UofL didn’t challenge this pass defense in last year’s game so it will be interesting to see if they change things up this year.

Kyle Hamilton gets my vote for the best defensive player that UofL will see this year. He is a monster of a human at 6-4/219 and he runs like a much smaller man. He’s the newest version of the hybrid Safety/Linebacker/Defensive Weapon types of players we’ve seen lately. Isaiah Simmons was that guy for Clemson and Derwin James played that type of role for FSU. Hamilton can do it all and he debuted last year against Louisville and made plays in that game. Look for him to play deep Safety as well as walking down into the box to help in run support.

The other Safety spot will be manned mostly by Shuan Crawford. As a former corner, I expect ND to utilize him in coverage more than Hamilton. they may even look to leave him alone against Tutu Atwell and others in the slot. Houston Griffith is also a former corner so the Irish are in good shape when it comes to coverage in the back end.

Excitement Level: 7.4

This is not anywhere near where we wanted to be, but national TV against a top five Notre Dame team in South Bend still gets the juices flowing.

Game Attire: Block L sweatshirt

Putting the brand new Homefield Apparel gear to the test right out of the gate.

Pregame Meal: Chicken Salad

My wife is adamant that we go to the new Chicken Salad Chick in Jeffersonville before the game. So that’s what we’ll be doing.

Bold Prediction: Louisville forces at least two turnovers

It’s embarrassing how off every bold prediction has been so far this season. I’m closing my eyes and swinging as hard as I can here.

Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Cerulean Blue (better than it probably should be)

The Alert Level still feels fairly good. It has no clue why.

Predicted Star of the Game: Javian Hawkins

Why fight it at this point? Hawkins has been the brightest star of the season for Louisville, and it isn’t particularly close.

Notable:

—Louisville is 1-0 all-time in games played at Notre Dame Stadium.

—Louisville is 4-15 all-time against top five opponents. The Cards last faced a top five foe in last season’s 45-10 loss to Clemson.

—Notre Dame is currently riding a nine-game winning streak, the longest of any team in the FBS.

—Notre Dame has won 21 consecutive games at Notre Dame Stadium, which is the modern-era program record for longest home win streak. Clemson and Ohio State are the only other Power 5 programs that boast home streaks of 20 or more games.

—Louisville is 17-58-1 all-time against top 25 opponents.

—Notre Dame is allowing just 13.7 first downs per game, good for the smallest average in the country.

—Notre Dame ranks fifth nationally in rushing offense, averaging 270.7 yards on the ground per game.

—Javian Hawkins leads the ACC and is third in the nation in rushing with 468 yards.

—Notre Dame’s most prominent monogram winner from Louisville is Paul Hornung. The 1956 Heisman Trophy winner attended Flaglet H.S. in Louisville and went on to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers.

—As a head coach, Scott Satterfield is 3-11 against ranked opponents, including 1-4 during his time at Louisville.

—Notre Dame has been ranked in the Top 25 for 51-consecutive weeks, the longest such streak for the Irish since the 1994 season (124 weeks).

—For the first time in the 132-year history of the Notre Dame Football Program, the Fighting Irish are playing the 2020 football season as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

—Louisville is 11-15 in ACC road games since joining the conference in 2014.

—Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is 3-2 all-time in games against Louisville.

—Notre Dame is 25-7 (.781) against ACC opponents since the scheduling agreement began during the 2014 season, and including 2020 play as a conference member.

—Louisville enters Saturday’s game having committed 11 turnovers and having forced only three, the third-worst turnover margin in the country. The 11 Cardinal miscues have resulted in 29 points for the opposition.

—Notre Dame leads the ACC in scoring defense (13.0 points/game).

—Notre Dame running backs Kyren Williams, C’Bo Flemister and Chris Tyree have each posted at least one 100-yard rushing game. Notre Dame is the only Power 5 team with three players who have all rushed for 100 yards or more in a game this season.

—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 8-0 when winning the turnover battle, and just 1-8 when losing it. The Cards have lost the turnover battle in all four of its games this season.

—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 49-4 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 8-1 in such games under Satterfield, with the lone loss coming earlier this season against Miami.

—Notre Dame has held 28 of 29 opponents during Clark Lea’s tenure as defensive coordinator to 30 points or less.

—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 254 games dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida State during the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the second longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech, and the 12th-longest in the country.

—Louisville is 190-13 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-118 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.

Quotable:

—“I think for us, it’s not about Notre Dame. I think it’s about us in this building, and how well we can go out and prepare this week to play this game and then go out and actually execute and play the game the way we prepared. I think that’s probably the biggest thing. .” —Scott Satterfield

—“For us here at Notre Dame, it’s enjoyable coming back with certainly a routine. It provides a bit of, I guess from a coach’s standpoint, that sense of normalcy if you will. We’re going to need it playing a very good opponent in the University of Louisville. Coach Satterfield has done a really, really nice job of building a strong culture with this program in a very, very short period of time. It’s a talented team. It’s a team that, I know the record speaks at 1-3, but it’s a much better football team than that.” —Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly

—“I would agree with those that say this (Notre Dame offensive line) is probably the best in the country. Those guys have been together for a while and work so well together. Those guys know each other like the back of their hands.” —Bryan Brown

—“It’s arguably the best offensive line in the country. They have guys that have played a lot of ball together up front. I think Coach Kelly has even said this is his best offensive line since he’s been at Notre Dame. These guys are good at pass pro and run blocking.” —Scott Satterfield

—”Their scheme is well coached and well executed and it’s surrounded with some talented offensive players. Atwell is probably as good as we’ve seen in space as a skilled player, complemented with Fitzpatrick and Marshall. Then you look at the running game and Hawkins, I think he’s third in the country, the best in the ACC, and arguably the one of the best, if not the best backs in the country. It’s a very talented offense. They’ve got a lot of returners, I think 10 in particular. Really good scheme, really well coached, dynamic playmakers, an offensive line, again, that is really good technically at what they do.” — Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly

—“I don’t think there’s one area that you can look at on their defense and say ‘well this is a weakness. They’re very, very smart, well coached. They are where they’re supposed to be, and they got great size, great length and great speed.” —Dwayne Ledford

—“We’re not just constantly looking all the negative things. I mean it’s whether they’re several negative things, but we’re not just always looking at those. We’re trying to build off of what we are doing good, and then trying to try to correct the mistakes that we have made.” —Scott Satterfield

—”If they take care of the football, this is going to be one heck of a football game. We’re going to have to play our very best. We are going to have to play better than we did last weekend against Florida State.” —Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly

—”I think this has probably been one of our best weeks of practice. Not just from the standpoint of having a good team ahead, but just knowing that we’re better than what our record shows. We know that we just got something to proved for the rest of the season.” —Dorian Etheridge

Card Chronicle Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Louisville 27

Go Cards.