Just when it seemed like Marcus Freeman was turning the season around, the Irish went right back to square one. This weekend, Notre Dame welcomes the UNLV Rebels to South Bend for the first time, a program that is struggling more than the Fighting Irish. There is a laundry list of problems in South Bend and if the Irish have hopes of knocking off ranked opponents in the upcoming weeks, they must first get back on track against UNLV.
Essential Game Info:
- Game Time: Saturday, October 22nd at 2:30 PM ET on Peacock
- Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
- Matchup History: This will be the first meeting between Notre Dame and UNLV
- Current Odds: Notre Dame –24.0
- Conference: Mountain West (West Division)
- Head Coach: Marcus Arroyo
- 2022 Record: 4-3 (2-2)
- 2021 Record: 2-10 (2-6)
The current GameDay forecast shows a 5% chance of rain with a high of 70 degrees and low of 50.
The Rebels visit South Bend for the first time. Ironically there will be another Las Vegas connection for Notre Dame in this matchup and they can play like they did in the desert a few weeks back. UNLV enters this matchup 4-3, but the Rebels have suffered 33-point and 35-point losses the past two weeks.
Quarterback Doug Brumfield leads the Rebel Offense. Brumfield did not play last week and was listed as day to day, it is uncertain if he will be eligible this Saturday. On the season, the UNLV quarterback is 106 for 155 (68%) with 8 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and 12 sacks taken.
Brumfield has 48 rushing attempts for 137 yards (3 yards per carry) with 5 rushing scores.
Notre Dame Storylines:
At this point, the Irish are just looking for bowl eligibility. After an impressive three game winning streak against California, newly ranked North Carolina, and BYU, Notre Dame lost all their momentum. On Saturday, a combination of enthusiasm, play calling, and execution cost the Irish the Legends Trophy for the first time since 2017.
Tommy Rees has no control of the Notre Dame Offense. David Shaw was able to stop the Irish last week by loading the box and locking in on Michael Mayer. Coach Shaw challenged Drew Pyne and the other receivers to step up, and they failed.
It is understood that the personnel may not be ideal on the offense, but the lack of planning, creativity, and execution have fallen short of the expectations for Tommy Rees. When the offensive line was unable to run the football during the Rees era, Notre Dame lacked innovative ways to move the ball and utilize the skill position players.
Al Golden’s Defense struggled against an injury plagued Stanford O-Line. Since the Ohio State matchup, the Notre Dame Defense has been regressing. Yes, there were a few injuries, but facing a 1-4 Stanford team and only forcing two sacks is unacceptable. The Cardinal Offense worked methodically with 21 1st downs, and they were 7 for 16 on 3rd down attempts.
Meanwhile the Irish Defense was unable to force a single turnover (not counting special teams), while Stanford recovered at least four of their own fumbles.
Notre Dame Offense vs. UNLV Defense: The Fighting Irish are averaging 379 yards per contest, while the Rebels are allowing 378 yards per game. The most disheartening aspect of Notre Dame’s Offense is the inconsistency. The same group that put up 576 yards on North Carolina and 496 yards BYU did not show up against Stanford.
Conversely, UNLV has surrendered a combined 82 points the past two weeks.
Advantage: Notre Dame
UNLV Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The UNLV Offense is averaging 358 yards per game, while Notre Dame is allowing 349 yards per matchup. Marcus Arroyo’s team has only scored two touchdowns in their last two games. However, this year road teams have played their best in South Bend, do not be surprised if the Rebels score more points in this contest.
Although the Irish Defense struggled last week, they only gave up 16-points. Notre Dame has the advantage in this category.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Special Teams: Notre Dame’s kicker Blake Grupe is 5 for 6 on the season with his longest make at 47-yards. While Daniel Gutierrez for UNLV is 6 for 6 with his longest make this year at 50-yards.
Last week was like watching Notre Dame Stanford circa 2016. The sad part about the 16 to 14 score was that I was not even surprised. Yes, I picked the Irish to win by 22 points, but I was not astonished they lost a matchup they had no business losing.
Let us get straight to it, UNLV is one of the worst teams on Notre Dame’s schedule (alongside Navy). This is an opportunity for Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees to restore rhythm before matchups with Syracuse and Clemson. On the contrary, this game can be the most embarrassing loss of the season if the Irish fail to show up again.
I have the Irish winning by two touchdowns. This prediction is more on how poorly UNLV has been the past several weeks and not based on how good Notre Dame has played. While the Fighting Irish are 3-3, they have an opportunity to create a little momentum for Syracuse, Clemson, and USC. Although the chances for a New Year’s Six Bowl game are almost at “0”, wins against those programs would be awfully satisfying.
Prediction: Notre Dame 34 UNLV 20