Notre Dame Football Primer: #9 Irish host Central Michigan

After an impressive road victory at NC State, the Fighting Irish return home to host the Chippewas of Central Michigan.

Central Michigan will be the final test before Notre Dame faces Ohio State on September 23rd. Marcus Freeman must refocus Notre Dame’s attention on taking care of business against the Chippewas this Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Irish have a great team and high-powered offense. Fans should enjoy this weekend’s matchup in South Bend.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: 2:30 PM ET on Peacock
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup History: No previous meetings
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -34.0

Central Michigan State Details

  • Conference: MAC
  • Head Coach: Jim McElwain
  • 2023 Record: 1-1
  • 2022 Record: 4-8 (3-5)

Weather Forecast

The current GameDay forecast shows a 5% chance of rain, with a high of 77 degrees and a low of 54.

Central Michigan Storylines:

Head Coach Jim McElwain leads Central Michigan into South Bend. If the name sounds familiar, it is because McElwain was the head coach at Florida from 2015 to 2017. The Chippewas are 1-1 heading into this matchup, with a loss at Michigan State (31 to 7) and a victory over New Hampshire last week (45 to 42).

The Central Michigan Offense is led by Bert Emanuel Jr. Through two games, Emanuel Jr. is 18 for 36 (50%) for 280 passing yards with 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and 6 sacks. The dual-threat quarterback has 38 carries for 142 yards (3.7 yards per carry) with 2 rushing scores.

Central Michigan’s top running back, Myles Bailey, has 26 attempts for 127 yards (5 yards per carry) with 1 rushing touchdown. The Chippewas top receiver, Chris Parker, has 5 receptions for 142 yards and one receiving score.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Gerad Parker handled the first adversity of the season. Notre Dame ended the game with 45 points against a tough Wolfpack Defense, but early on, the Fighting Irish struggled to get things rolling on offense. NC State was blitzing on over half of their plays, while Coach Parker and Sam Hartman were able to adjust as the game progressed.

In years past, the Irish would be rattled by opposing defenses stacking the box and blitzing, but with a Heisman-caliber quarterback and play action, the Notre Dame Offenses shredded NC State in the second half.

Sam Hartman and company have their final test before the Buckeyes. Last week, the Irish Quarterback went 15 for 24 with 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. His rushing helped the Irish Offense get started in the 1st quarter with a 16-yard-designed quarterback draw on 3rd down and 10.

It will be fascinating to see if Hartman uses his athleticism more during upcoming matchups with Ohio State and USC when his escapability could be the difference in more even matchups. He has not needed to run that often through three games, but Hartman does have 842 career rushing yards and 18 career rushing touchdowns (almost all at Wake Forest).

The Notre Dame secondary is extremely talented. This program has one of the best secondary groups this century. Al Golden’s defense forced three turnovers last week alongside a single sack. If the Irish want to run the table this fall, they must get more pressure on the quarterback, especially with only bringing four linemen.

Head-to-Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Central Michigan Defense: The Fighting Irish Offense averages 45 points per game, while the Chippewas allow 37 points per game. Central Michigan surrendered 31 points to Michigan State and 42 points to New Hampshire, both schools with inferior offenses to the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame has the clear advantage.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Central Michigan Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Chippewas are averaging 26 points per matchup, while the Fighting Irish allow 10 points per game. Al Golden’s defense has a distinct advantage in this matchup, and the primary concern this week will be penalties. If it were not for questionable penalties against NC State, the Wolfpack would not have come close to scoring 24 points on the Fighting Irish.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: Notre Dame’s Spencer Shrader is 1 for 3 on the season, with his longest conversion at 54 yards (program record). Also, one of his misses was a 56-yard attempt last week. Conversely, Central Michigan’s kicker Tristan Mattson is 1 for 1 this season with a 47-yard conversion.

Advantage: Notre Dame

My Prediction:

Each week is a step closer to the College Football Playoffs, and before Notre Dame can think about Ohio State, they must first get to 4-0. Fighting Irish fans cannot wait until the historic matchup with the Buckeyes next week. Still, after a heart-pounding contest with NC State on the road, fans should enjoy a potential blowout in South Bend this weekend before the eyes of the college football world are on the Irish and Buckeyes.

Some may say that Notre Dame Football is on upset alert this week, but I do not believe that. If it were an ACC opponent, perhaps, but Central Michigan has proven not to be a formidable opponent based on their first few contests.

I have Marcus Freeman moving the Irish to 4-0 with a 36-point victory heading into the monumental matchup in South Bend with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Irish fans need to get ready because the forecast for September 23rd is calling for a “Green Out” at Notre Dame Stadium.

Prediction: Notre Dame 49, Central Michigan 13

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