Staff Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Massachusetts
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, September 24, 2015
Greg Hadley, Editor-in-Chief
Nothing about this game will be close, except maybe the score.
On paper, Notre Dame should blow out the Minutemen in one of the easiest wins of the Brian Kelly era. The talent gap between the two squads is almost embarrassing. DeShone Kizer is at home for his second start and should be getting comfortable. C.J. Prosise will run wild against a relatively small front seven. The Irish defense will have a field day against an offense that is miles behind Georgia Tech’s triple option.
But all that being said, Notre Dame has a unique ability to make things more exciting than they should be. See: the final minute against Georgia Tech. So the Minutemen may hang around just enough to make Irish fans uneasy.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 34, Massachusetts 10
Mary Green, Assistant Managing Editor
Brian Kelly said this type of game, a “trap game” that has the temptation to be overlooked, makes him nervous.
If the Notre Dame that handily defeated Georgia Tech in all facets of the game last week shows up Saturday, his nerves will be for nothing. But if the Notre Dame that traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, two weeks ago is the one that runs through the tunnel against the Minutemen, he might be on to something since the Irish can exhibit a tendency to play to the level of their opponents — in this case, barely out of the FCS.
But that shouldn’t be the case. The Irish might be looking forward to next week’s matchup against Clemson, but if C.J. Prosise and the defensive line have half the performance they did last week, they’ll be fine, and so will Notre Dame.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 37, Massachusetts 10
Zach Klonsinski, Sports Editor
Massachusetts is going to be a tougher game than many Irish faithful would like to think.
The Minutemen took Temple to the wire last week, the same Owls team that walloped Penn State in the opening week of the season. UMass head coach Mark Whipple has a successful track record at the school. Graduate student quarterback Blake Frohnapfel did lead the NCAA in passing last season, and the Irish pass defense has looked vulnerable at times already this season.
With Clemson on Notre Dame’s schedule next week, this has all the makings of a trap game for the Irish. And it would have been if last week’s final minute hadn’t happened.
Notre Dame clears the taste of the Georgia Tech finish out of its mouth, however, and runs away with it.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 45, Massachusetts 20
Alex Carson, Associate Sports Editor
If there’s concern for Notre Dame this week, it’s that Massachusetts’s biggest strength, throwing the football, correlates with Notre Dame’s biggest weakness so far, its secondary. If Minutemen quarterback Blake Frohnapfel can connect with Tajae Sharpe for big gains, they could put up enough points to keep the game a little more interesting than Irish eyes may want it to be.
But even if Frohnapfel plays well, the Irish should dominate the other facets of this game. Success will be determined by whether or not freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush is able to see the field, and at the end of the day, he will in a comfortable Irish triumph.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 37, Massachusetts 20
Brian Plamondon, Sports Writer
As the injuries mount for the Irish, they might soon take a toll on this resilient team. It won’t be this weekend against Massachusetts, however. Notre Dame opened as 28.5-point favorites, and it should win by at least that much against an 0-2 Minutemen team.
Don’t get me wrong, Mark Whipple’s squad showed some fight last week in hanging with a very good Temple team. Still, they are overmatched in every facet against a talented and well-coached Notre Dame team.
I almost think Georgia Tech scoring two late touchdowns last week was good for the Irish, who will sharpen their focus so as to avoid a letdown against an inferior opponent. Look for freshman backup quarterback Brandon Wimbush to undoubtedly see time this week.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 49, Massachusetts 10