It bears mentioning that for the first time in the 132-year history of Notre Dame football, the Fighting Irish are playing in a conference. Credit the craziness that is 2020 for that decision. Thus far, the move has been good for the Irish, as they have started 2-0 in the conference with wins over Duke and Florida State. Now the Irish face a struggling Louisville team, which should extend their conference unbeaten streak to 132 years and three games.
Notre Dame’s offense has been solid thus far in 2020. The Irish have turned to a potent rushing attack out of Brian Kelly’s spread offense, averaging 270 yards on the ground through three games. Quarterback Ian Book has been a good game manager, limiting his mistakes so far. The Notre Dame defense has been the team's strength, limiting their opponents to just 323 yards per game. The combination of a strong rushing attack and a dominant defense should be enough for Notre Dame to be among the ACC leaders this season.
Notre Dame is coming off a 42-26 win over Florida State after trailing 17-14 at the end of the first quarter. The Irish were off for nine days coming into the game due to COVID concerns and played the game without several key players. Still, Notre Dame was able to do enough to extend their home win streak to 20 games.
(Injury reports and line movements are updated as of Friday afternoon.)
The line has edged upward slightly as the week has gone forward. After being an initial 14-point favorite in the contest when the lines came out, Notre Dame is now a 17-point favorite in this contest. 52 percent of the wagers ATS are backing the Cardinals with the points in this one.
The over/under has trended down slightly this week for this contest. After starting off at 63.5 points, the total for this one has dropped down to 62.5 points. The slimmest of majorities, 51 percent, of the bets on the total are on the over for this contest.
Game-time Weather: Temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the high-50s under cloudy skies, though there currently is no rain in the forecast for this one. As the game wears on, temperatures will hit the low-60s though it will feel chillier than that. Winds will blow in from the south at around 17 miles an hour with gusts kicking up to right around 21 miles an hour.
Meanwhile, the Louisville Cardinals are coming off a loss against Georgia Tech in which the Cardinals lost three fumbles. In the previous week’s loss against Pitt, Malik Cunningham threw three picks. The Cardinals will have to clean up those offensive miscues if they are to have a chance against a good Notre Dame defense. Making matters worse, Louisville will be without starting cornerback Marlon Character in the first half after being ejected for targeting in last week’s game against Georgia Tech.
The Cardinals lost to Notre Dame 35-17 last season and comes into this game on a three-game losing streak. Going back ten games, Louisville has won just two of their past ten road games.
Louisville Looking to Clean Up OffenseTurnovers have played a prominent role in the past two losses for the Louisville Cardinals, and this week the offense can ill afford to turn the ball over to an excellent Notre Dame defense. While high powered offenses seem to be the trend in 2020, Louisville’s offense has been stuck in neutral, averaging 29 points per game despite averaging 424 yards per contest. The Cardinals have converted just 39 percent of their third-down conversions and average less than four trips into the red zone per game.
QuarterbackMalik Cunninghamhas completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 986 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions thus far in 2020. The Cardinals passing attack averages almost eight yards per attempt. Cunningham’s favorite target isChatarius Atwell, who has caught 25 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns. Wideout Dez Fitzpatrick averages 18 yards per catch and is capable of stretching the field.
Louisville's run game centers on Javian Hawkins, who has averaged 5.5 yards per rush. Hawkins will face a defense that is allowing just 3.2 yards per rush. The offensive line has given up 14 sacks through four games and faces a Notre Dame front that averages three sacks per game.
Defensively, the Cardinals allow just 389 yards per game but have struggled to get off the field (44.6% opponent third-down conversions) and in the red zone. Eleven of 15 defensive red zone possessions have ended in an opponent’s touchdown.
Questionable: DB Marlon Character, WR Justin Marshall
Irish Look For Better Start, Sharper PlayNotre Dame struggled early last week against Florida State, but that was expected after missing significant practice time due to COVID concerns. After falling behind 17-14, the offense came to life, outscoring Florida State 28-9 over the final three quarters for the win. Notre Dame’s run-heavy offense out of the spread is designed to set up a play-action passing game, and quarterbackIan Bookis a threat to run at times.
Book has completed 62 percent of his passes for 207 yards per game while tossing three touchdowns to one interception. Book’s favorite target has spread the football around, with five receivers at six or more catches on the season.Kyren Williamshas been the centerpiece of the offense, having picked up 359 yards on 48 carries while averaging 18 yards per catch.
The Irish's strength is their defense, which has limited teams to 323 yards and 13 points per game. Notre Dame’s defensive front averages three sacks per game. The Irish have allowed just eight third-down conversions in 44 attempts in three games (18%) while limiting their opponents to only eight red-zone trips.
OUT: LB Paul Moala
Questionable: QB Brendon Clark, WR Lawrence Keys III, LB Jack Kiser, RB Jahmir Smith, DL Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa
- Notre Dame: Fighting Irish are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win.
- Notre Dame: Fighting Irish are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite.
- Louisville: Cardinals are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog.
- Louisville: Cardinals are 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 road games.