Tim O'Malley -- PublisherWinter arrived early in South Bend this week -- more than six inches of snow and ice will greet travelers for their pilgrimage to the House that Rockne Built. Though the Irish proved they could turn it over at a debilitating pace in ideal weather conditions last week in Tempe, the addition of cold and plenty of slop can only exacerbate quarterback Everett Golson's ball security issues Saturday against Northwestern.
My weekly game preview, "Who and What to Watch" is forthcoming, and will feature a six-pack of key questions to preview the contest, but a final score prediction remains in order here:
Notre Dame 27 Northwestern 13
Anna Hickey -- Recruiting ReporterNotre Dame begins its upward climb to get to the level of play it demonstrated against Florida State. Everett Golson will limit his turnovers, Tarean Folston will bounce back and Nyles Morgan will continue to improve. Still, Northwestern is capable of being a solid opponent - and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Improvements upon last week’s performance will be obvious, but Notre Dame won’t be perfect.
Notre Dame 28 Northwestern 21
Amruther24 -- ModeratorNow that ASU has taken the wind out of Irish fan's sails, we can get back to watching this Notre Dame team as it was meant to be watched, for entertainment value only. That they were in position for playoff discussion in November was something of a surprise -- but that they could still be in the conversation if not for an explosion of turnovers is something better not discussed.
If, in the pre-season, "10-2" was offered a potential regular season record, I think most would have taken that total and been thrilled. The Irish are young, inexperienced, and reaching the tipping point, at least defensively, at which injuries and attrition might be too much to overcome. Yet, they come out and battle, again and again. They are fun to watch and minus some dumbfounding mistakes at the QB position, pretty easy to cheer for. Unfortunately, the injuries on D and the mistakes at QB are inextricably linked. Brian Kelly and company can't dial back the offense because they need to score points to win now. The Irish find themselves in a catch-22 going forward in 2014.
I don't know much about Northwestern other than, since Pat Fitzgerald has been the head coach, that they normally show up to play against big time opponents. I don't expect Saturday to be any different. Oddly, Northwestern's offense hasn't been able to find its way this year despite the fact that it's been the calling card unit there for several years. I think the Irish eventually pull away in the fourth and move to 8-2 with two more huge games on the schedule.
Notre Dame 35 Northwestern 20
GaviND -- ModeratorAfter one of the more disappointing performances in the Brian Kelly era, the Notre Dame football team returns home to play against a mediocre-at-best Northwestern team.
For me, this game is not a question of whether they should win. They should. It's a matter of which team will show up.
Aside from games against Rice, Michigan and Florida State, this Notre Dame team has struggled to click. Despite all of its talent on the offensive side of the ball, they never seem to make things easy on themselves.
If I knew that the "good," Irish squad was going to show up, I'd suggest a lopsided win by a three or four touchdown margin. At some point, however, you have to sit back and say you are what you are and have been, and not, necessarily, who you can be.
They'll win this game -- that's what they do to sub-.500 teams -- but it probably won't be in the impressive fashion all of us would like.
Notre Dame 31 Northwestern 24
SeattleNDFan -- ModeratorA wounded and limping Northwestern Wildcat team comes into South Bend to face a wounded and limping Fighting Irish squad after losing two of their last three. Oddly enough, the standard "all offense/no defense" Northwestern team is just the opposite this year, with an anemic offense that lost all-everything RB Venric Mark and triggerman Kain Colter from the last few seasons. On the other hand, they are playing good defense.
That combination with an equally defensively oriented Michigan team last week resulted in a true snooze-fest lost by Northwestern in typical Wildcats fashion: the QB tripped while avoiding the rush on a do-or-die two point conversion attempt to win the game on the last play, and a potential 11-10 win melted away into a 10-9 loss. (This might of course have been Pat Fitzgerald attempting to help Brady Hoke keep his job rather than risk Michigan hiring a coach who could actually revive the Wolverines.)
Northwestern plays defense keeping everything in front of them, rarely getting beaten over the top, but that approach didn't help a Navy team vs. Brian Kelly's Irish. The Wildcats have held down some talented teams this year but their only chance to do so Saturday is if the turnover bug is still in the Irish system, as the visitors are far outmatched in terms of speed and talent. Barring four or more turnovers, Notre Dame should win this comfortably, though the score should be an order of magnitude less than the past four weeks have brought.
Notre Dame 38 Northwestern 13
Morrissey79 -- ModeratorI’ll be honest – I did not see last week coming. I certainly knew that ASU was going to be a tough opponent, and I definitely knew we would give up points in that showdown, but never in my life did I foresee 5 turnovers (including 2 returned for TDs) and Everett Golson panicking as much as he did. The fact that we somehow cut the score to 34-31 shows that this is still an extremely talented team, but until Golson and the offense (but primarily Golson) learn to take care of the football, our offense will be limited.
Heading into this weekend, I’m very curious to see how Golson responds. This was the 2nd game this year where I thought his body language was extremely poor (Syracuse). When Golson clearly made bad mistakes, he would not accept Kelly trying to coach or discuss with him on the sidelines, and I hated seeing that. Will he take care of the football against Northwestern? Will he respond and show just how talented he is? I honestly don’t know at this point.
That being said, Northwestern is not a good team. They're limited on offense, and while their defense is solid, explosive playmakers like Golson, Folston, Fuller, and Prosise can expose the Wildcats D. Fitzgerald is a solid, not great coach.
If ND plays sound fundamentally, if Golson takes care of the football, and the defense plays aggressive, the game should be over by midway through the 3rd quarter if not halftime.
Sadly, I’m not sure if Golson will take care of the football – I think he turns it over once or twice, but still has a solid game, and ND wins 34-17
KurzND -- Moderator: Notre Dame needs to get back to the basics. Run and protect the ball -- I'm just looking for improvement over a team the Irish should be beat by three scores. But...
Notre Dame 34 Northwestern 24