Week 13 ACC: Notre Dame at Louisville

    Louisville (7-3) at Notre Dame (7-3) Nov. 22, 3:30, NBC Here’s The Deal: Interesting first-ever matchup. Just not quite as compelling as it appeared to be

    November 21, 2014

    Louisville (7-3) at Notre Dame (7-3) Nov. 22, 3:30, NBC 

    Here’s The Deal: Interesting first-ever matchup. Just not quite as compelling as it appeared to be a month ago. Since Oct. 11, Louisville and Notre Dame have combined to go 4-5, including heartbreaking losses to undefeated Florida State. While the Cardinals have recovered from their brush with the Noles, doubling up Boston College before getting a week off, the Irish have not been the same since a pass interference call changed the outlook of their season. Over the last three games, ND escaped Navy, got torpedoed by Arizona State and fell in overtime to Northwestern. Neither school is currently ranked. 

    Why Louisville Might Win: The Irish are suddenly a mess on both sides of the ball. Too many turnovers on offense, and too many mistakes and missed tackles on defense. S Gerod Holliman and the Cardinals lead the ACC with 25 takeaways, which ought to concern ND’s Everett Golson. The quarterback, whose throwing shoulder isn’t 100%, will get routinely pressured by Sheldon Rankins, Lorenzo Mauldin and a coterie of active linebackers. And the ASU game showed that when Golson gets flushed, he’s prone to putting the ball on the grass or in an opponent’s chest. 

    Why Notre Dame Might Win: QB Reggie Bonnafon has a bright future at Louisville. But South Bend is a tough venue for a true freshman with limited experience. Now that Will Gardner is out for the year, it’s Bonnafon’s job for the next three games. He’s been predictably spotty, which could neutralize the effectiveness of Louisville’s best weapons, namely deep-threat WR DeVante Parker. As erratic as Golson has been lately, he and his receivers, especially William Fuller, give Notre Dame a better shot of extending drives and converting on third downs. 

    Who To Watch Out For: Irish defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder will want to rattle Bonnafon as often as possible, but who’ll consistently get in the young quarterback’s face? The pass rush in South Bend has been a disappointment, with just one-third of the team’s 18 sacks coming from a depleted line that’s now without star end Sheldon Day. However, Louisville has been sketchy in pass protection this fall, and inexperienced quarterbacks have a habit of holding the ball too long in the pocket, so there’s hope for Notre Dame. 

    What’s Going To Happen: Of all the matchups on Saturday, Brian Kelly vs. Bobby Petrino, two of the game’s brighter offensive minds, is the most intriguing one. Kelly will have one significant edge, access to a proven veteran quarterback, while Petrino resumes molding his rookie. The Irish are being held together by masking tape and motivational quips at this point, which ought to be barely enough to land the team an emotional and razor-close win on senior day. 

    Prediction: Notre Dame 38 … Louisville 34 
    Line: Notre Dame -3.5 o/u: 56 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: HBO’s State of Play – 1: Euros of Hollywood … 3 

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