Staff Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Virginia
Aidan Thomas | Friday, November 12, 2021
Notre Dame travels to Charlottesville for what is widely considered the hardest remaining game on their schedule. The Observer Sports staff gave their predictions.
Aidan Thomas – Associate Sports Editor
Notre Dame is beginning to look like Notre Dame again — they’re winning games comfortably and leading wire-to-wire for the most part. They got off to a slightly slow start against Navy, but it was a generally pretty complete performance. Against Virginia, they face a high-octane offense, albeit one with question marks due to quarterback Brennan Armstrong’s health status. He may be a game-time decision. If so, the Irish will have to deal with the best dual-threat quarterback they’ve seen all season, and that’s going to be a difficult task. If he’s healthy, this game projects to be similar to the UNC-ND shootout, but now the Irish are on the road, which is an extra concern. But Virginia’s defense is not good enough to stop a rapidly improving Irish offense. If Armstrong plays, which this score prediction reflects, the Irish will be in for a close one. If he doesn’t, it could be a slightly smoother ride in their biggest remaining test.
Nate Moller – Sports Writer
This trip to Charlottesville appears to be the toughest remaining game for the Irish on the schedule, especially if Cavalier quarterback Brennan Armstrong is able to play. The secondary has been the weak point of the Irish defense lately without Kyle Hamilton, and they will definitely be tested against a Virginia team that has five receivers with over 400 receiving yards on the season. Sophomore Dontayvion Wicks might be the toughest for the Irish to guard, as he has just under 1000 yards receiving on the season and is averaging 23.1 yards per catch. It’s tough to imagine any of the Irish corners being able to limit Wicks’ production on Saturday.
Because of this, I expect the Cavaliers to have big play potential on nearly every play against the Irish and put up a lot of points on the scoreboard. On the other side of the football, the Irish will look to replace wide receiver Avery Davis, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Luckily for the Irish, they are facing a Cavaliers defense that gave up 66 points to BYU in their last game and has struggled most of the year to contain their opponents. I expect this one to be a shootout, but with the improved play of the Irish offensive line and improved offensive productivity overall, the Irish should be able to get a victory in this one.
Colin Capece – Assistant Managing Editor
We get it, Bronco Mendenhall, quarterback Brennan Armstrong is really good. It was refreshing to watch a press conference where a head coach was so animated and vigorous in his praise of his signal caller (compared to Brian Kelly’s trademark monotonous tone, I’m just saying it was a nice change of pace). No disrespect to Armstrong whatsoever, as he’s been arguably the best quarterback in the country this year. If he’s fully recovered from the rib injury he suffered against BYU two weeks ago, the Irish aren’t going to be able to stop the UVA offense very often, especially with a banged-up secondary.
But all of that gets negated by how absurdly atrocious the Cavaliers defense has played over its last two games. 1300 yards of total offense surrendered? Are you kidding me? The Irish could suit me up at tailback on Saturday and still pick up 100 yards on the ground (Kelly has yet to observe my elite awareness and elusiveness dodging oncoming defenders in North Dining Hall. Still waiting for that scout team invite, old friend). With the Irish offense clicking the way it is right now, I don’t see the Cavaliers stopping Notre Dame. Like, at all. This game will be a wildly entertaining shootout under the lights at Scott Stadium, with the Irish pulling away in the fourth quarter. I actually don’t know if it’s possible to score this many points in 60 minutes of game time outside of the Big 12, but here it goes…
Notre Dame 66, Virginia 55
Emily DeFazio – Associate Sports Editor
I could get used to this comfortable win situation. Despite a closer start against the Midshipmen, the Irish pulled away with a definitive victory over the longstanding rival. One can only hope that they repeat their performance against UVA. The Cavaliers will not announce whether starting QB Brennan Armstrong will see the field this Saturday until the start of the game, and this could be the defining factor in the outcome of the matchup, considering Kyle Hamilton’s absence on the Irish’s defense. Because of this, and taking into account the seemingly sorry state of UVA’s defense, it will be a battle of the offenses in Charlottesville. Seeing how Notre Dame’s offense has been coming together over the last couple of weeks, I have to hand this one to Notre Dame. Despite the loss of Avery Davis, the offensive unit will continue on its systematic journey and triumph over Armstrong’s squadron. Expect a high-scoring game, with the Irish definitively pulling away in the third quarter.
Mannion McGinley – Sports Editor
This week was supposed to be a complete turnaround from Navy’s triple-option to a heavy passing offense. With Virginia star quarterback Brennan Armstrong in question, though, that hurdle to a win seems to be shorter (and may be moved out of the way entirely). Even if UVA plays at full capacity, Notre Dame has proven to have a certain strength in shootouts this year. The offense will be down a receiver with Davis out but the running and receiving corps have proven to be strong enough that losing him won’t be “blue like I’ve never known.” Logan Diggs rounds out a run trio with Kyren Williams at the helm and Chris Tyree on the mend. And, at receiver, Deion Colzie and Lorenzo Styles Jr. have begun to make names for themselves. So long as the defense can play off of last week’s success, the Irish will be in good position this week for a solid win.
Jimmy Ward – Associate Sports Editor
Notre Dame has escaped the most difficult part of their season with just one loss to Cincinnati. Although they are far from being in prime contention to make a run at the CFP, Notre Dame is still very much in contention at a NY6 bowl. And for a year that was really meant to be a rebuilding year, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.