After playing back-to-back Top 20 opponents, Brian Kelly and the Irish will square off against the Bowling Green Falcons this Saturday. Notre Dame moved up one spot in this week’s AP Poll to 9th and are still in the midst of a playoff hunt. This weekend Brian VanGorder will make his return to South Bend as Defensive Coordinator of the Bowling Green Falcons.
Essential Game Info:
- Game Time: October 5th at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC
- Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
- Matchup History: This will be the 1st matchup
- Current Odds: Notre Dame -45.5
The current forecast for GameDay shows a 20% chance of rain with a high of 62 degrees and a low of 50.
Bowling Green Details:
- Conference: MAC (East Division)
- Head Coach: Scot Loeffler
- 2019 Record: 1-3
- 2018 Record: 3-9
Bowling Green Storylines:
1st season for Head Coach Scot Loeffler. It has been a rocky start for Coach Loeffler, through the first four games. The rebuilding process typically takes a few seasons, look at the Virginia Cavaliers last week. Scot Loeffler has been coaching college football for over two decades, but this is his first head coaching stint.
Many great head coaches have gotten their start at Bowling Green, such as Urban Meyer, Dave Clawson, and Dino Babers. The former Michigan quarterback, Loeffler, has his work cut out for him. Ironically the Irish will be playing his alma mater in just a few short weeks.
Brian VanGorder returns to South Bend. After getting fired by Notre Dame Football in 2016, VanGorder made his return to defensive coordinator last season at Louisville. His time in Louisville was short, as the Cardinals had one of the worst defenses in the country. I can imagine it will be quite unpleasant being back in South Bend.
Key Players. The Falcons are led by quarterback Darius Wade who is 66 for 114 with 664 yards passing. Wade has 3 passing touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He is a dual-threat quarterback who boasts 27 attempts for 87 yards (3.2 yards per carry).
Wade’s favorite target is wide receiver Quintin Morris who leads the team with 16 receptions for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns. Listed at 6’ 4”, Morris has presented many challenges to opposing defenses in 2019. The running game is led by Davon Jones who has 43 attempts for 205 rushing yards (4.8 yards per carry) and 1 rushing touchdown.
The loss to Kansas State. If Bowling Green’s loss to Kansas State is any indication of how the game will flow this weekend, the Falcons are in for a long battle. Week 6 of the season is upon us, and every team has a good idea of their capabilities. Bowling Green also gave up 62 points to Kent State in their last matchup. Scot Loeffler and his team will face an Irish opponent that has been dominate at home.
Notre Dame Storylines:
Ian Book had a lackluster performance last week. Against Virginia, Book went 17 for 25 with 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. On the ground, he had 9 attempts for -11 yards. As many injuries as the Irish have sustained on offense, Ian Book has needed to shoulder the responsibilities. Nevertheless, Book has not met expectations.
As the season progresses and the Irish Offense gets healthier, Ian Book needs to get back to his elite level of play that fans witnessed in 2018.
Running Game takes a step forward. Tony Jones Jr. had a terrific game last week with 18 carries for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns. C’Bo Flemister also brought a spark with 6 carries for 27 yards on the ground. Flemister will get more reps moving forward after his execution against Virginia.
Dominate Defensive Line. Julian Okwara made a statement in South Bend last weekend and proved why he is one of the most dominant defensive ends in the country. Okwara had 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. When the Notre Dame Offense was struggling, the Irish defensive line took over the game.
Head to Head Matchups:
Notre Dame Offense vs. Bowling Green Defense: Chip Long and the Irish Offense are still looking for an identity in 2019. This game will be a great time to develop the offense. Bowling Green’s defense gave up 62 points to Kent State and 52 points to Kansas State.
This matchup will come down to how many points the Notre Dame backups can score. Unlike some coaches who run up the score, Brian Kelly will show class and try to kill the clock in the second half. If the backups score, then so be it.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Bowling Green Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Imagine being in the Falcons film room this week, how can they prepare against this Notre Dame pass rush? It will be difficult for the Bowling Green Offense to sustain any drives this weekend. Not only is the Irish Defensive Line playing fast, but the secondary with Kyle Hamilton and Alohi Gilman are also creating turnovers.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Special Teams: The Fighting Irish Special Teams doesn’t need to be great; they have play mistake-free football and let the other units dominate. However, the Irish made countless errors against Virginia.
First, they surrendered an onside kick to the Cavaliers. A similar mistake that the Clemson Tigers had against Alabama in the National Championship game a few years back. Second, Chris Finke fumbled a punt return that placed Virginia in excellent field position while Jonathan Doerer missed a 47-yard field goal, which ultimately was not as big of a debacle.
This week, I give Bowling Green the advantage on special teams. Unfortunately, the special teams are always more of a weakness for the Irish than a strength.
It’s important to never overlook any opponent on the schedule, especially after North Carolina almost upset #1 Clemson last week. However, this Bowling Green team lost to Kansas State 52-0, and the Irish are a lot better than the Wildcats. This week is about getting reps for the younger players and working on the “details” as Coach Kelly says.
Notre Dame must eliminate penalties this week. Penalties may have been the difference against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Irish Special Teams need to play mistake-free football moving forward. Finally, Ian Book must have his best game of the season against the Bowling Green Falcons.
The Irish have USC and Michigan coming up in the next few weeks, this will be a game that Notre Dame can use to work on the details. I believe this matchup is very similar to the New Mexico game a few weeks back.
Prediction: Notre Dame 56 Bowling Green 13