Coming off back to back road wins of 20 points or more for the first time in more than 20 years, Notre Dame returns home this evening to host the Miami RedHawks and former Irish offensive coordinator Chuck Martin. Martin will lead Miami of Ohio into Notre Dame Stadium for the first time in history for just the second meeting ever between the two programs and the first since 1909. Martin brings an undermanned and outmatched squad into South Bend to take on the Irish, but will Notre Dame be able to take care of business and put this one away early this week?
How’d I Do Last Week
As always, we’ll start by taking a look at how I did last week to keep me honest and honestly, I was way off on that one. I expected it to be a hard fought, close game like most Notre Dame – Michigan State games. Deep down I thought the chance for a comfortable was possible, but I think that almost every week because I’m a homer. Seeing Notre Dame actually make that happen though was a thing of beauty.
In terms of the players I was watching for last week. I expected about the type of performance that we saw from Brandon Wimbush. Improved and better than we had seen in the passing game but still a work in progress. I was worried about the tackling last week after some shoddy tackling against Boston College, but the Irish defense were up to the task last week and were pretty sound in that department.
What Concerns Me This Week
Not a whole lot. Honestly, there isn’t much that concerns me this weekend. On paper, this should be one of the easiest games of the year and we’ve already seen Notre Dame win three games by 20 or more points this year. This game shouldn’t be close and Notre Dame should get ample opportunity to continue to work on the kinks in the passing game and get some reps for the reserves in the second half.
The weird start time. If I have to list a few things that concern me, one would be the weird 5:00 start time. Athletes are creatures of habit and the odd start time could mess up their rhythm early I suppose, but that could be a stretch. It’ll more likely mess up Notre Dame fans’ dinner plans more than anything, but there is a chance we see a bit of sluggish start. Maybe.
A let down performance. This one could also be an issue. Notre Dame spent a lot of emotional capital on that performance last weekend and an opponent like Miami of Ohio could make it tough to be up for this one. I know, I know, they shouldn’t need any more motivation than playing for Notre Dame but even Lou Holtz coached teams had emotional letdowns from time to time. Hopefully the coaching staff kept them grounded this past week and used their absence from the Coaches Poll as motivation.
Running backs ankles. Notre Dame’s running backs keep getting banged up. The Irish didn’t have Tony Jones Jr last week and it sounds like Dexter Williams could be on the sidelines for actual legit reasons this weekend – unlike past weekends when he was perfectly healthy but just barely played. Notre Dame needs all three backs rested and healthy for the October stretch run so let’s hope they get through this one without any more injuries and that we see Deon McIntosh run the ball a lot in the second half.
What Doesn’t Concern Me This Week
Chuck Martin’s familiarity with Brian Kelly. There was some talk about how well the two coaches know each other and how Martin’s knowledge of Kelly could come into play here, but remember, Kelly had no connection with Mike Elko or Chip Long before this year so any knowledge Martin has of Kelly’s systems is really negligible here. If anything Martin has insight into Kelly’s game management and how the Irish might attack, but it’s nothing I’m concerned with this weekend.
Notre Dame wide receivers. Last week we saw Chase Claypool take a step forward and saw Equanimeous St. Brown have his best game of the season. This week we could see the return of Kevin Stepherson in some capacity. The sophomore who’s been in exile for the first three games should see the field but it would still be a shock if he had a major role in the game plan. Add all this up though and we should see the wide receiving corps continue to take shape this evening.
Notre Dame wins this one easily this weekend. Kelly respects Martin too much to run up the score, but Kelly also respects that he needs to keep his job so he won’t take it easy on them either. If the Notre Dame passing game were in better shape at this point, maybe Notre Dame just runs the ball today, but they need to pass the ball to keep the momentum from last week going. Brandon Wimbush could have his best game of the season today as Notre Dame deploys a balanced attack.
Defensively, Chuck Martin’s RedHawks will have a tough time moving the ball on Mike Elko’s defense. Miami will get a couple early field goals and then a late touchdown once the Irish starters are off the field.
Prediction: Notre Dame 49, Miami 13
Preseason Prediction: Notre Dame 42, Miami 17
Yearly Prediction Summary
|Week 12: Stanford
|Week 11: Navy
|Week 10: Miami
|Week 9: Wake Forest
|Week 8: #14 NC State
|Week 7: #21 USC
|Week 6: North Carolina
|Week 5: Miami OH
|Week 4: #16 Michigan State
|Week 3: Boston College
|Week 2: #3 Georgia
|Week 1: Temple