The Washington defense has been awful pretty much any way you slice it. They're allowing over 40 points per game. Teams average almost 233 yards rushing per game against this defense, and the Huskies have surrendered 18 touchdowns through the air in six games—that's three a game. They've also surrendered 14 touchdowns on the ground thus far this season.
The Washington defense has forced just four turnovers all year, and has just three sacks on the season. This is a very poor defense.
The Irish should be able to do about anything they want on offense. What they don't need to do is to take a lot of chances early and consequently turn the ball over early giving the Huskies some momentum. This sure appears to be a game where the Irish could work on their running game as they should have ample opportunities to make plays in the passing game if they do struggle running the ball early.
The important thing here is to not turn the ball over. If the Irish don't turn the ball over, they'll win this game. Unfortunately, eight of Notre Dame's 14 turnovers have come on the road this season. I expect this game to be highly emotional. Notre Dame merely has to protect the football on offense and they should score a lot of points on Saturday, both running and throwing the football.
This is where the game will be interesting. Washington's offense is starting to come around a bit. The Huskies put together a nice offensive game against Oregon State last weekend, but they turned the ball over four times, which cost them the game. The Huskies have struggled running the football all year, and only average 103 yards rushing per game, but they did have some success last week against the Beavers. They also threw the ball for 276 yards and made a number of big plays in the passing game last week. This team isn't void of talent on offense, but they make far too many mistakes to win football games.
Quarterback Ronnie Fouch made a number of big plays last week throwing the football, but he also threw three interceptions, which really hurt his team. Pressure Fouch and the Irish should have success stopping the Husky offense. Washington has allowed 15 sacks on the season, so teams have had success rushing the quarterback.
I expect a healthy diet of blitzes for Fouch and the Huskies, but Notre Dame hasn't had a lot of success getting to the quarterback this season. I expect they will have more success in this game.
This is the whole key to the game—emotion. Notre Dame hasn't played well on the road for awhile. Notre Dame hasn't played well lately in night games. The Irish have a habit of turning the ball over on the road. They also have the habit of playing to the level of their competition. If the Irish ever want to be a great team, they're going to have to stop doing these four things. This is a good opportunity to take that first step.
Unfortunately, I'm just not sold the Irish will do all of that this week. The whole key to this game will be the Irish offense line. If they come out smacking Washington around early, this game will be a blowout. If they don't, it's going to be closer than many think.
Mike Frank Prediction: This ND team seems to almost always make it harder than it really needs to be. I don't see that changing this week, but I also think it can. How the Irish respond this week will be interesting. They're very close to becoming a very good team. A positive step would be to put this Washington team away early, and show up ready to play from the opening whistle. I think you'll see they will show up ready to play, but this team has a habit of sleepwalking when they do have the lead, and that cost them the game two weeks ago against North Carolina. Still waiting for four quarters of football…..
Notre Dame: 35 Washington: 17