Notre Dame will look to bounce back from an awful home loss to Northwestern last week when Louisville comes to South Bend. The Irish will have to get back to what made them successful early in the season, which is limiting turnovers and getting stops on defense starting with shutting down the run to have any success down the stretch. It’s also imperative that Brian Kelly puts together a better game plan or a very capable and aggressive Louisville team could hand the Irish their third straight loss. The following are the matchups the Irish must control to get back on track and beat Louisville:
Cole Luke versus DeVante Parker: Cole Luke will have a stiff challenge in front of him when he attempts to slow down one of the nation’s best receivers in DeVante Parker. Parker is a combination of elite size and speed who also possesses great ball skills. The senior standout has tallied 25 receptions for 490 yards and a touchdown this season while playing in only four games due to injury. Luke has progressed very well this season with increased playing time and is tied for the Irish lead in interceptions so it will be a critical matchup on the outside this weekend.
Jaylon Smith versus Michael Dyer: Linebacker Jaylon Smith has performed all season for the Irish and he will need to again versus Michael Dyer. The former Auburn running back has continued to show his talent at Louisville rushing for 414 yards and four touchdowns in seven games this season. Smith has the athletic ability to shut down Dyer so if he can fill the right gaps the Irish could slow down the Cardinals.
Everett Golson versus Gerod Holliman: Everett Golson has struggled with turnovers and it will be a long day if he doesn’t take care of the ball against Gerod Holliman. Holliman leads the nation with 13 interceptions and also has 16 pass breakups. The Cardinals aggressive defense allows Holliman to be a ball hawk so Golson will need to be on point or he could cost the Irish another game.
Ronnie Stanley versus Sheldon Rankins: Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley will face another talented edge rusher in Sheldon Rankins. Rankins has a team-high seven sacks as well as two interceptions from his defensive end spot. He has good size at 6’2’’ 305 pounds so Stanley who is the Irish’s best offensive lineman will have his hands full.