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Staff Predictions: Ball State

| Friday, September 7, 2018

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish players kneel in the end zone after running out of the tunnel before Notre Dame’s 24-17 win over Michigan on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

Tobias Hoonhout — Managing Editor

Ball State may have racked up a program-record 654 yards this past weekend in a 42-6 win over Central Connecticut State, but Notre Dame is no FCS defense.

Like last year’s MAC opponent, the Cardinals are coming to Notre Dame Stadium with a tall task in order. While the Irish shouldn’t take any game lightly, frankly Ball State doesn’t have the personnel to go toe-to-toe with Notre Dame. The Cardinals went 0-8 in conference play and lost nine in a row to close out the season last year. While they may have finally snapped that losing streak this past Saturday, I don’t see them starting a winning streak anytime soon.

FINAL: Notre Dame 56, Ball State 14

Elizabeth Greason — Assistant Managing Editor

Ball State this Saturday is not a trap game. The Irish offense will open up strong against the Cardinals, just as they did against the Wolverines, but this time, the squad will finish the job, playing a complete four quarters.

Brian Kelly referred to Cardinals quarterback Riley Neal as an NFL prospect and the Ball State offense should be able to move the ball downfield against the Irish, but based on the defense that reared its head against Michigan, Ball State will struggle in the red zone. This game is a matter of talent, and the bottom line is that the Irish are a better team than the Cardinals on both sides of the ball. That’s what happens when you have the recruiting power Notre Dame does. This game will ideally pose a good opportunity to get some playing time for some fresh faces.

FINAL: Notre Dame 48, Ball State 13

Joe Everett — Sports Editor

After a big opening-season win like the Irish had over Michigan, there is always the fear of a letdown performance the following game. I don’t believe that will happen against Ball State — this Irish team is focused and trusts the week-by-week process.

Ball State will improve upon its 2-10 record from last season, as the Cardinals were absolutely decimated by injuries. Quarterback Riley Neal and running back James Gilbert — who played in just three games each — should kick-start a nice rebound. However, Notre Dame will be too fast, strong and disciplined to keep up with on Saturday. The Cardinals won’t be chirping for long.

FINAL: Notre Dame 52, Ball State 17

Charlotte Edmonds — Associate Sports Editor

Lost in the hype of the big opening win is the fact that the Notre Dame offense slowed significantly in the second half. Although I expect Notre Dame to pick up another win this Saturday against Ball State, I think that same offensive slump will plague them against the Cardinals, and they won’t be nearly as dominant as they should be.

This Notre Dame team has hopefully learned from their past, but they’ll likely be looking forward to the later middle of the season. This complacency, combined with the underdog mentality the Cardinals are sure to come in with, will lead to a slow start for the Irish. However, much like last week, the defense will anchor the team as the offense continues to adjusts.

FINAL: Notre Dame 42, Ball State 10

Connor Mulvena — Associate Sports Editor

If the Irish don’t beat Ball State by at least three touchdowns this Saturday, there is a problem.

After a victory, however solid, against what appeared to be a lackluster and out-of-control Michigan squad, Notre Dame needs to prove that last week was not just a Wolverine loss but an Irish victory. Head coach Brian Kelly needs to make a statement, and I think he will.

The offense will get hot and stay hot, and the defense should leave Ball State quarterback Riley Neal no room for error. Expect the Irish to be a little mean on Saturday. They’re more athletic, better coached, more skilled, and they’re going to show it. Plain and simple.

FINAL: Notre Dame 54, Ball State 10

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