Predictions: Louisville vs. Notre Dame
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, November 20, 2014
Senior Sports Writer
All season long, I’ve said I can’t see Notre Dame losing at home on Senior Day, even though Louisville presents a formidable challenge.
Now, with the Irish reeling and injured and the Cardinals fresh off a bye week, would be the time to flip.
But I still don’t see it. Simple statistics tell us Everett Golson and Kyle Brindza should progress to the mean. I’m not as convinced about improvement for Notre Dame’s defense, which takes another major hit this week without Sheldon Day.
Still, I expect Golson to play cleanly enough for the defense to not be routinely under siege, and I think Jaylon Smith, Cole Luke, Isaac Rochell and company make enough plays to avoid an explosion by Louisville’s offense.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Louisville 28
My first home game as a Notre Dame student was a 23-20 loss to South Florida in 2011.
That game featured five Irish turnovers and sloppy play all around.
I expect Saturday’s game to feature much of the same.
Do I think Notre Dame has improved since 2011? Certainly.
But does that mean this team doesn’t have some of the same issues present in 2011? Nope.
The Irish are in a historically bad stretch defensively, at least by points allowed, and can’t keep from hurting themselves offensively.
These shortcomings both spell disaster against a Louisville team that averages over 31 points per game and leads the nation in passes intercepted.
And they mean the result of my final home game will be similar to that of my first home game.
FINAL SCORE: Louisville 35, Notre Dame 27
Assistant Managing Editor
The loss to Florida State: tough, but the team still had playoff potential.
The loss to Arizona State: tough, but the team still had a shot at an elite bowl game.
The loss to Northwestern: tough, plain and simple.
The Irish are banged up physically without senior linebacker Joe Schmidt and now junior defensive lineman Sheldon Day, and they’re also psychologically shaken. Brian Kelly’s original rationale in going for two against Northwestern, after all, was a lack of confidence in the kicking game.
But Louisville will be missing its starting quarterback. And the Cardinals have lost two of four. And the Irish are playing their final home game. Notre Dame will respond with a win.
FINAL SCORE : Notre Dame 35, Louisville 28
Assistant Managing Editor
Despite the dreary prospect of Notre Dame finishing 7-5 with losses to Louisville and USC to close out the season, I don’t think that will happen at home on Senior Day.
Although the Irish defense is banged up, particularly with the loss of Sheldon Day, it will do just enough to stop the Louisville offense.
Everett Golson (Notre Dame fans, cross your fingers) and the rest of the Notre Dame offense will limit its turnovers because that is what the game will come down to: the Irish not shooting themselves in the foot.
The Irish will pull off a win in this game for their seniors.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 41, Louisville 38
The Irish will be geared up for Saturday, desperate to bounce back from two consecutive losses and wanting to send their seniors off with a final home victory.
But that’s not going to happen.
Notre Dame’s turnover problems aren’t going to go away overnight, and neither will its struggles on special teams.
Louisville’s 23 turnovers forced rank 10th in the nation, and it’s scored 149 points off opponent miscues. That spells major trouble for the Irish.
Adding insult to injury, Sheldon Day will join Joe Schmidt on the bench, depleting the defense even more than it is already, and Kyle Brindza isn’t the kicking machine he was earlier this season.
The seniors’ final Alma Mater will be sung with disappointment, not in celebration.
FINAL SCORE : Louisville 37, Notre Dame 28