Notre Dame Football Primer: #13 Irish face Tennessee State in South Bend

The Fighting Irish return to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time in 2023.

After an outstanding start to the season in Ireland, Marcus Freeman and his team return to South Bend to face Eddie George and the Tennessee State Tigers. The Fighting Irish take it one week at a time, as they will be highly favored in this showdown. This Saturday, Sam Hartman will have another opportunity to show the college football world that Notre Dame Football finally has a Heisman-caliber quarterback.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: Saturday, September 2nd at 3:30 PM ET on NBC
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup History: 1st Matchup
  • Current Odds: N/A

Tennessee State Details

  • Conference: Ohio Valley Conference
  • Head Coach: Eddie George
  • 2022 Record: 4-7 (2-3)
  • 2021 Record: 5-6 (3-3)

Weather Forecast

The current GameDay forecast shows a 5% chance of rain, with a high of 86 degrees and a low of 65.

Tennessee State Storylines:

Tennessee State will be the first FCS opponent for the Irish. A tradition of only playing FBS (Division 1A) opponents has finally ended for the University of Notre Dame. That said, it does not make a substantial difference whether the Irish were playing Ball State, Toledo, Bowling Green, or another non-power five opponent.

The matchups that will make the difference in making the playoffs will be against power-five opponents Clemson, Ohio State, and USC.

Head Coach Eddie George leads the Tigers in his third season. The former Heisman Trophy winner hopes this will be his breakthrough year at Tennessee State. Coach George is looking to build a program in his backyard where he played almost his entire NFL career for the Tennessee Titans.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Sam Hartman lives up to the hype in week 0. For the first time in a long time, Notre Dame has a Heisman-caliber quarterback with legitimate NFL potential. Hartman went 19 for 23 with 251 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. The Irish Quarterback not only put up impressive statistics but undoubtedly had confidence and swagger throughout the game.

I do not know how Notre Dame fans are expected to make it through another work week before watching this offense for a full 60 minutes this Saturday afternoon.

Audric Estime was a wrecking ball against the Midshipmen. The Notre Dame running back had 16 carries for 95 yards (6 yards per carry) with 1 rushing touchdown, while adding 2 receptions for 26 yards. After another full year in the weight room, Estime may be the hardest running back in the country to bring down.

The Irish running back did have a fumble early in the game and hopefully can adjust.

What can the Irish Offense improve on against the Tigers? I am still watching to see how all the talented wideouts will be utilized and incorporated this fall. Chris Tyree, Deion Colzie, Jaden Greathouse, Jayden Thomas, Matt Salerno, and Rico Flores Jr. all registered a catch against the Naval Academy.

Notre Dame Football is loaded at the skill positions, and it is incredible to watch a quarterback get them the football in stride.

Head-to-Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Tennessee State Defense: The Fighting Irish scored 42 points last week, and it could have been even more if it were not for the new rule that has the clock running on 1st downs. Gerad Parker called a fantastic game against the Midshipmen with a great awareness of when to lean on Hartman and Estime.

This will be Tennessee State’s first contest of the season, and they will be challenged to slow down one of the best offenses in the nation.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Tennessee State Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Al Golden’s defense played a lot better than a year ago, facing Navy’s triple option attack. If it were not for a measly field goal attempt late in the 4th quarter, the Irish would have completed a shutout.

The Tennessee State offense could take advantage of Notre Dame’s jet lag and the fact the Irish faced a triple option last week.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: Notre Dame’s Spencer Shrader is 0 for 1 through the first game of the season. The Fighting Irish have more talent and advantage in this category as well.

Advantage: Notre Dame

My Prediction:

The Irish had a great first week of the season, but they are still eleven wins away from their ultimate goal of making the College Football Playoffs. Notre Dame Football should never overlook an opponent (I could cite dozens of examples, unfortunately). The Irish need to secure the victory and make strides forward because an upset-minded NC State program awaits them on the road the following Saturday.

The standard should never waiver, no matter who the opponent is on the gridiron. Sam Hartman will keep this team focused and distribute the ball to a plethora of receivers on Saturday.

I have the Irish winning by 39 points and predict the Tigers may get a touchdown late in the 4th quarter.

Prediction: Notre Dame 49, Tennessee State 10

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