Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish face Marshall in Home Opener

The Fighting Irish are back in South Bend after a tough, but momentum building loss at Ohio State.

Notre Dame fans are cautiously optimistic after a loss to the #2 team in the country. Marcus Freeman’s group did not play their best game and only lost by 11-points. The defense played admirably and there are a lot of areas for the offense to improve heading into this week’s matchup. With a loss in week one, Notre Dame has no room for error as the Marshall Thundering Herd visit South Bend seeking an upset.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: Saturday, September 10th at 2:30 PM ET on NBC
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup History: This will be the first matchup between the Fighting Irish and Thundering Herd.
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -20.0

Marshall Details:

  • Conference: Sun Belt Conference (East Division)
  • Head Coach: Charles Huff
  • 2022 Record: 1-0
  • 2021 Record: 7-6 (5-3)

Weather Forecast

The current GameDay forecast shows a 50% chance of rain with a high of 81 degrees and low of 63.

Marshall Storylines:

Marshall will face the Fighting Irish for the first time in program history. After an impressive 55 to 3 victory over Norfolk State, the Thundering Herd will make the trip to South Bend on Saturday afternoon. Charles Huff enters his second season as the Marshall head coach, and he looks to build off a respectable 7-6 campaign in 2021.

There are several key players for the Thundering Herd. The Marshall Offense is led by quarterback Henry Colombi. Last week, Colombi went 24 for 26 (92%) with 205 passing yards,1 passing touchdown, and 1 interception. On the ground he had 6 rushing attempts for 11 yards and was sacked twice.

Other important Marshall offensive players include running backs Ethan Payne and Khalan Laborn, as well as their top receiving target, Talik Keaton. In week one, Payne had 10 rushing attempts for 113 yards, while Laborn had 12 attempts for 102 yards. Talik Keaton had 8 receptions for 71 yards against Norfolk State.

Notre Dame Storylines:

The Irish Offensive Line must be dominant against Marshall. Whether or not Pres-Season All-American Jarrett Patterson is healthy, the Notre Dame rushing attack cannot play as poorly as they did in week one. Even though they were facing a fierce Ohio State Defense, 30 rushes for only 76 yards (2.5 yards per carry) is not the standard for Notre Dame Football.

What can Tyler Buchner do through the air against Marshall? Buchner had his first career start in one of the most hostile environments in the country, while facing a talented Ohio State Defense. The verdict is still to be determined with the Notre Dame Quarterback, last week was a small sample size and he did not have great pass protection or opportunities to be successful. If Notre Dame wants to win a national championship, they will need Tyler Buchner to be elite and the Irish have not had a genuinely great quarterback since Brady Quinn.

Can the Irish Defense repeat their week one performance? I cannot recall the last time the Ohio State Buckeyes were held to 21-points, more less in their own backyard. The Notre Dame Defense was on the field the entire second half and eventually got worn down in the 4th quarter. Perhaps the biggest positive from Saturday was the outstanding play from the secondary, a position group that many thought would be a weakness this season.

The only concern I had with the defense was the play calling, and one play specially. Notre Dame held a 3-point lead, with Ohio State in Irish territory attempting a 3rd down and 11. Al Golden elected to blitz both Notre Dame safeties who were extremely far away from CJ Stroud when the ball was snapped, thus allowing a wide-open lane in the middle of the field for Ohio State to seize the lead and all the momentum.

Head-to-Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Marshall Defense: Tommy Rees and the Irish Offense need to get things figured out in week two and it all starts upfront. Notre Dame must be able to run the football as well as give Tyler Buchner time in the pocket. On the other side of the ball, the Marshall Defense looked impressive by holding their opponent to only 3-points.

Although the Irish Offense looked bad in Columbus, they still have the advantage playing at Notre Dame Stadium.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Marshall Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Thundering Herd Offense put up 55-points against Norfolk State but will be facing one of the toughest defenses in the country in week two. Al Golden’s unit played better than anyone thought they would against a future NFL quarterback and NFL wide receivers in Columbus.

I expect the Notre Dame Defense to have multiple sacks and force several turnovers this week.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: The Marshall kicking game is led by Rece Verhoff, who is 2 for 2 on the season with his longest make at 30-yards. While Notre Dame’s kicker, Blake Grupe is 1 for 1 with his longest make at 33-yards.

There is no distinct advantage. The Notre Dame kickoff return group was awful in week one and put the already struggling Irish Offense in horrible field position multiple times. I expect that to change this week.

Advantage: Tie

My Prediction:

There are a lot of positive takeaways after last week’s performance against the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes. But the Notre Dame Offense must improve drastically if this program wants to run the table and make it back to the College Football Playoffs, more less win a national title. Marshall is certainly no Ohio State, but I expect the Thundering Herd to give the Irish a battle early on.

Notre Dame fans undoubtedly want to see a 50-point victory, but that will not happen this week. I have the Fighting Irish controlling this entire game and coming out as 17-point victors. The Thundering Herd may have a late score to make the contest look closer in the end.

I anticipate the offensive line to be embarrassed about their week one performance and take out their frustrations against Marshall.

Prediction: Notre Dame 34 Marshall 17

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One Comment

  1. Of course I’d be happy with a solid victory, but once in a while I’d like to see an out and out drubbing, e.g., 54-0. It seems to me that ND plays too nice and dignified sonetimes. So, how about this weekend, we see excellence on both sides of their game and they pound Marshall into the ground? Wishful thinking?

    Go Irish

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