Frankie V’s Prediction: Notre Dame Looks to Knock Off Another Unbeaten Team on the Road

Notre Dame is on the road to take on an undefeated ACC foe for the second week in a row. The Irish survived a scare from a Duke team that is much better than the Louisville squad the Irish will square off with on Saturday night in the house that Papa John built. The Cardinals have a lot of buzz with a 5-0 record and a new placement just within the Top 25, but is it legit? Let’s dig in.

What Worries Me this Week

Trap Game Ahead of USC

Greg pointed out on the podcast this week that while everyone looked to Duke as the trap game, Louisville was the real trap game. He even predicted this to be a loss in the pre-season because of how much of a trap game he thought it would be. Notre Dame played back-to-back primetime games against undefeated, ranked opponents. This will be their second straight week facing an undefeated, ranked opponent on the road and third overall. And next week, the Irish have archrival and, wait for it, undefeated USC coming to town.

If the staff isn’t careful, the recipe is there for a trap game this weekend. Getting a college team to play at peak performance four weeks in a row is nearly impossible. And for those who groaned or rolled their eyes at that, even Lou Holtz had issues with letdowns and trap games during his time at Notre Dame. On paper, Notre Dame should beat Louisville and is the much better team. We’ll see how good of a job of avoiding a letdown the staff does.

The health of Notre Dame’s wide receivers

On Thursday, head coach Marcus Freeman said that Jayden Thomas, Jaden Greathouse, and Eli Raridon would all play this weekend. Receivers Thomas and Greathouse both sat out the Duke game with hamstring injuries, while tight end Eli Raridon is returning from his second significant knee injury a year ago. I said earlier this week I was skeptical Notre Dame would get them all back, but Freeman’s wording didn’t leave many outs – he said they would play.

Even with them back, hamstring injuries are finicky for players who run and cut as much as receivers do. Hopefully, both Thomas and Greathouse are at full strength because the Irish passing game suffered without them on the field last week as the Irish played with just three healthy scholarship receivers, with freshman Braylon James still not quite ready to be activated.

What to Watch

Louisville on 1st down

The Cardinal offense is built off of explosives. The Irish defense is built to limit explosives and force teams to score on long drives. Duke’s touchdowns last week came on drives of 8 and 11 plays. Louisville’s lone touchdown against NC State came on a 3-play, 45-yard drive.

Louisville is not a good third down offense. They are converting just 40% of their third downs on the season. Notre Dame is holding opponents to just 38% on third down on the season. That number would be even lowered without a particularly bad night on third down against Ohio State. If Notre Dame can force Louisville into third downs and not let them play ahead of schedule, the Irish defense should keep Louisville’s points low just like NC State did to them a week ago, with the Cardinals scoring just 13 in their 13-10 win.

Notre Dame’s defense in the redzone

Another area the Cardinals struggle with that the Irish are strong is the redzone. Louisville is scoring touchdowns on just 63% of their trips to the redzone. Notre Dame is allowing just 55% conversion of any kind in the redzone this season. The Irish have allowed just 7 touchdowns on 20 trips from opponents into the redzone for a 35% touchdown allowed rate.

Again, if Notre Dame limits Louisville’s explosive plays and forces them to make long, sustained drives, the Cardinals won’t put up enough points on the scoreboard to pull off the upset.

The turnover battle

Louisville quarterback Jack Plummer has thrown 6 interceptions on the season and is on pace for a career-high in picks. He threw just 9 on 451 attempts in 2022. His 6 interceptions have come on just 132 attempts this year. Louisville has fumbled 6 times on the year but lost just one of them. Notre Dame opponents have fumbled an astonishing 11 times, considering Notre Dame has recovered just one. The one recovery was a big one to end the Duke game last week, but still 1 out of 11 is some almost impossibly bad luck. Will that recovery change Notre Dame’s fortune?

Sam Hartman has yet to throw an interception this season, while Notre Dame has lost just two fumbles of their own. Turnovers played a huge role in Notre Dame’s win over NC State as a close game turned into a blowout because of them. The two turnovers Notre Dame produced against Duke were the difference a week ago. Two weeks ago, the Irish let a turnover slip through their hands that would have ended the game before the Buckeyes ever reached the redzone on that fateful final drive. Win the turnover battle again, and win the game.

Players to Watch

  • Marist Liufau – He’s been fantastic against mobile quarterbacks and not so much against more pocket passers so far this year. Plummer is not a threat with his legs, so it’ll be interesting to see which Liufau shows up.
  • Tobias Merriweather – He had a rough outing against Duke with increased usage. I would love to see the coaches dial up a few plays for him to get him going.
  • Xavier Watts – He’s playing at a very high level right now and coming off one of his better games. Plummer is probably going to throw an INT. Watts could make it back-to-back games with a pick.
  • Benjamin Morrison – If Watts doesn’t, maybe Morrison will get on the board this week.
  • Jeremiyah Love – He had a long run on the fake punt last week. This week, he gets one in the base offense.
  • Holden Staes – With Evans breaking out the last two weeks, he’ll likely get some more attention. This could be a good time to get Staes involved.

Prediction Time

Louisville seems to be a trendy upset pick this week, and other than the possible trap game angle, I just don’t see it. Yeah, they’re undefeated right now, but they haven’t really played anyone and looked anything but scary in their 13-10 win over NC State last week. Assuming Notre Dame has its receivers back this week, I think the Irish will win much more easily than the point spread is giving them credit for right now.

Notre Dame 31, Louisville 13

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  1. Freeman’s progress in learning to be a head coach is indiscernible, to put it charitably.
    But Kelly was still a cancer, and you know what they say: Fuck Cancer.

  2. Numb.
    Trap game.
    Running game.
    Wide receivers.
    Crowd in game…. The whole game.

    USC with conceited Caleb Williams coming.
    Who made this schedule?
    Ohio State has a a week off. We usually play SC 3rd week in Oct.
    it’s a week we need off.

    So I wish the people would quit talking about playoffs and let’s just improve the program. I’m not being cynical, but I am numb and I’m sick at heart and we could be eight and four if we’re not careful..
    Maybe 7-5 .. Wake would love to take Hartman. SC and who knows about Clemson?
    This isn’t cynicism, but we are a tired team right now with a very, very very tough schedule, and we will not get the credit that we deserve for a very tough schedule.

    I’m sick at heart.
    24 schedule anyone?

  3. If the O line can’t give Hartman time…don’t matter what excuse you have at wide receiver
    ….worst case I coached game I have seen including BK melt downs…..horrible effort in all aspects. Beginning of the end…..USC will be yet another embarrassment on the national stage next week. Bet on it. Sorry.

  4. A couple of weeks ago everyone said Tommy Rees sucked. Bama is doing ok with not their best talent.

    Who would replace Freeman?

    ND is at a significant disadvantage since their players actually attend school. That’s non existent for most D-1 schools. A significant number of ACC and SEC player likely sign their names with an X.
    Then there is the conference hate since ND doesn’t want to play along with the charade that athletes are students.
    Finally even NBC isn’t pro Notre Dame anymore if they ever really were. They have the Big Ten (20) a conference with no integrity, just appearance.

    So at this point it would take a real believer to want to coach at ND. A rarity.

    1. I’d bet Milroe is going to be a really good QB at Alabama.
      Why they punished him so hard for lossing to a very good Texas team is a bit much. But if nothing else, it made QB1 obvious. because there’s no one else.
      The exact opposite is happening at ND, where a very good, proven QB is being wasted and humiliated.

    1. Last year, Mayer was the only one Buchner and PIne threw to out of lack of imagination and panic.
      This year, Evans is the only one who can get open and reliably catch anything.

    1. 2 weeks in a row o-line gets pushed around,no screen passes same old same old!! Predictable play calling, out physicaled by 2 average teams! Joe Alt has taken a HUGE STEP BACK!!

    1. JOE RUDOLPH was available for a reason, this o-line gets an ass kicking every week! Freeman has 3 years left & then they GOTTA BRING IN A BIG NAME COACH! NO MORE BULLSHIT

  5. Fire Freeman. He’s just a cheerleader on steroids. This team is an embarrassment both offensively and defensively.

  6. Sam Hartman should sit out the rest of the year. Gerad Parker has ruined his draft stock. Marcus Freeman better demand an offensive coordinator for next season. Price tag better not matter

  7. Fickell was there and available. Even wanted the job. All that was required was a proper interview process.

  8. Offensive coordinator sucks….biggly! USC will eat this porious offensive line alive next week. Poorly prepared, poorly coached. The coaches get in the way of the players again…..not ready for prime time. Horrible in all facets of the game. Lots of Freeman fans…..sorry to tell you he ain’t the guy. Thinks guys loved Lou? They respected him, he wasn’t necessity loved because he was a coach first. Love for coach ain’t always a good thing. Overranked….

  9. Indeed, it’s time to see a well tuned machine. I don’t think the competition reflects the team’s performance in the last 2 weeks. They have looked not quite as sharp in their own execution. And yes, play calling has been conservative.
    For the run game they need the line to feature a lot of pulling guards and tackles. Quick give and RB into the gap. They did this a few times early in the season. Also they need to work counters. Defenses are trying to overplay where they think the ball is going so a good counter as long as backside pursuit is sealed off will work well and slow down the defense.

    And please use those receivers. They are smart enough to give them good routes.

    1. I for one think that the tackling has to get much better,also it’s time to let Sam air it out baby!!!!!! We should have beat OSU, maybe we get another chance, I for one can’t stand their whining coach.Irish go take care of business today and then CRUSH USC!!!!!! GO IRISH.

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