Anna Hickey -- Recruiting ReporterThe main question, will a post-Navy hangover carry over to Saturday? is imminent and fair. I foresee a confident, but with plenty to prove, Notre Dame team taking the field in Tempe tomorrow. I think you’ll see a sharp offense with Everett Golson delivering an outstanding performance.
Nyles Morgan will step up to the plate and wreak some havoc, both stopping the run game and getting to the quarterback. Both teams will surrender plenty of points, but Notre Dame prevails after four quarters. The driving factor in Notre Dame’s success tomorrow will without a doubt be Brian Kelly. He’ll have his team mentally prepared and will call a terrific game.
Notre Dame 42 Arizona State 38
SeattleNDFan -- ModeratorThe loss of Joe Schmidt on top of Austin Collinsworth leaves the Notre Dame defense in a scramble situation for leadership and pre-snap organization/alignment that will likely result in giving up numerous big plays against Arizona State's offense. But the increased athelticism and speed on the field in exchange will likely also lead to numerous positive big plays by the Irish defense.
On the other hand, Sun Devils starting QB Taylor Kelly is returning after injury and has been quite rusty in his first two games back, to the point that some are calling for his backup, Mike Bergovici, to start instead.
On the other side of the ball, one and possibly two defensive line starters will be out for Arizona State Saturday, so quarterback Everett Golson and the Irish offense should be able to move the ball and put points on the board (though the specter of untimely turnovers continues to hang over them). This is an ASU defense that gave up 62 to the last offense they saw with a dual-threat QB like Golson.
I see Taylor Kelly starting this game and struggling, leading to an early lead for Notre Dame, but Bergovici coming on in relief and leading a furious Sun Devils comeback in the second half. My gut feeling is that it will fall just short, but this will be another game where the scoreboard will be in constant motion for both teams.
Notre Dame 38 Arizona State 31
Amruther24 -- ModeratorNotre Dame's brutal November continues this week in hot, dry Tempe, Arizona. Thanks to the playoff committee rankings, this game sets up as a playoff elimination between two well-matched teams that need a signature win after watching their purported difficult schedules collapse. In what is obviously not a perfect analogy, this game has the feel of an 8 vs. 9 seed game in the NCAA basketball tournament.
Both teams are playing well enough to be considered for contention, but do either have the makings of a final four team? Hopefully, we'll have some answers after this week.
Notre Dame's offense is starting to round into the elite unit we thought they'd be at the beginning of the year while the defense is starting to look like the unpredictable, inconsistent unit that many projected. The defense showing up early this season really allowed the offense to rev into gear, and is a big reason this team sits at 7-1. Now it's time for the offense to pay them back.
There's been a lot of talk about ASU's defense starting to gel on the strength of their last three performances. Well, let's put that in perspective. None of those last three opponents rank in the top 75 of total offenses in the country. In fact, Utah and Washington are both ranked in the 90s. And Irish fans all were able to see all of the majesty and wonder of that Stanford offense...
USC was the last team ASU played that has been capable of moving the ball and they dropped 34 in a game that ended in an ASU hail mary.
On the other hand, ASU's offense is the real deal despite not scoring a ton of points in the last three weeks. Basically, Irish fans should be expecting a shootout, but we already knew that.
In a November game that is as equally matched as any I can recall in the Brian Kelly era, Notre Dame leaves Tempe with a resume building win.
Notre Dame 42 ASU 41
Morrissey79 -- ModeratorWhile ND did not look as good as one would have hoped last weekend against Navy, the offense continues to shine, and that bodes well for this weekend’s matchup.
With the offensive line continuing to gain experience together, with the focus being on Tarean Folston as the primary back, and with Everett Golson just getting better and better, I have a hard time seeing Arizona State’s defense containing the Irish offense. At this point, I think the offense can play with just about anybody, and I think Brian Kelly is showing the scheme and offense he can run when he has a quarterback that fits what he wants to do.
That said, this offense must generate a killer instinct at some point – for instance, when you look at Golson’s performance last weekend, he had a couple lapses and inconsistencies that prevented ND from blowing Navy out. The interception…consecutive bad throws leading to a FG attempt twice… dropping the football on a routine play action (though give him credit, he somehow turned it into a TD). When the Irish offense gets rid of these inconsistencies, look out – ND is scoring 35 points a game, and it can actually get better – that is tremendous news.
The concern of most is not on the Irish offense, but rather the defense. What will VanGorder and the Irish staff do to compensate for the loss of Joe Schmidt? Nyles Morgan is extremely talented and has a tremendous future ahead of him, but he could be behind in the knowledge department. Will this allow Arizona State to find some holes and expose the Irish D? Most likely yes, I expect Arizona State to move the ball pretty well and score a lot of points.
The key for the Irish defense is can they get off the field on third down to slow down the fast tempo? Can they get some pressures home and force Taylor Kelly into some bad throws / potential turnovers? And can they hold defensively in the red zone and force FGs? If they can execute two of those three it will be a good performance in my mind.
At the end of the day though, even with the questions on D, and the fact that I believe ASU will move the ball well and score a lot of points, I just don’t see our offense being outscored in the end. ND 38 ASU 31
KurzND -- ModeratorNotre Dame historically doesn't fare well following the Navy gam, and Arizona State is the best team the Irish have faced since that hex began seven seasons ago.
The Irish offense needs to stick to running the ball and protecting it. If ND doesn't turn it over, they will win easily. Look for Will Fuller to get back into the swing of things while Tarean Folston continues to impress.
Brian VanGorder's D needs to limit impact plays in the passing game by Jaleon Strong (fitting name) and all-purpose burner D.J. Foster. The Irish must win on first down and make ASU pass while VanGorder brings the blitz in third-down situations. As for Joe Schmidt's replacement, everyone knows Morgan is an athlete, but he's a year away and will give up a big play or two.
Notre Dame 31 Arizona State 26