When you look at Tennessee, the Irish match-up with the Volunteers pretty well. Tennessee likes to run—Notre Dame's strength on defense. They have a freshman quarterback—the Irish defense has made a living chopping up freshmen quarterbacks all season.
The Vols have three starters along the offensive line nursing injuries. They're minus a quarterback (Brent Schaeffer), and one of their best running backs (Gerald Riggs) is also nursing an injury.
The Volunteer defense is said to be the strength of the Tennessee team. They do allow 21 points per game and some teams have had some success running the football against the Volunteer defense.
The Gamecocks amassed 567 yards on the Tennessee defense just last week, including 226 rushing yards.
While Volunteers are ranked at high as ninth in one poll, the Irish might be finding the Volunteers at just the right time.
But that only matters if two things happen. One, the Irish are emotionally ready to play the game, and two, the Irish coaching staff has a game plan that can exploit some weaknesses in their opponent.
We're not sure if both mentioned above will happen on Saturday.
At 7-1, the Volunteers have a lot to play for like a BCS berth. At 5-3, the Irish don't have much more to play for than pride at this point.
There is no question that the Irish were deeply hurt after their crushing defeat at the hands of Boston College two weeks ago.
Coming off such an emotional defeat, nobody is sure what to expect from this Irish team.
Good tight ends have given the Irish problems in the past and Volunteer Jayson Swain is a pretty good one. Watch for him to have a big game on Saturday.
The Irish will have to score early to stay in the game. If the Notre Dame offense sputters early, this could be a very long day for Irish fans.
We expect the Irish to come ready to play. This is the type of game Notre Dame always shows up for. We believe we'll see the better version of Notre Dame football on Saturday, but will it be enough?
The Volunteers hold on for victory.
Tennessee: 28 Notre Dame: 20