Notre Dame will open up its season with a home game against Temple. The Fighting Irish enter the season ranked No. 14th in the nation.
Notre Dame was 12-1 last season, losing its lone game to Alabama in the BCS championship game. Temple didn’t have the same success, finishing the season with a 4-7 record. The Owls didn’t face anyone in the Top 25 last season.
This is pretty much the definition of a tune-up game, and Notre Dame should win easily.
That said, here is what we will watch for:
- Tommy Rees. Rees takes over at QB for the Irish. He has a 14-4 record as a starter but only saw action in nine games last season. He takes over for Everett Golson, who is suspended for the year. He wasn’t exactly impressive in his limited snaps, completing just 57.6 percent of his passes. How Rees looks in the opener against an inferior opponent will say a lot about how his, and the teams, season will progress.
- Must run. Rees doesn’t have all that strong an arm, and isn’t the best at taking care of the ball. Enter the run game. The Irish were better at running the ball last season and this year won’t be any different. Last seasons top two rushers are gone, but George Atkinson III is a very efficient runner and they have five-star freshman Greg Bryant. The offensive line is still largely intact and will open up plenty of holes for the running backs to gash the Temple defense.
- Defense. The Irish fielded one of the best defenses in the country last season. The defensive line might be the best in the nation, but they lack depth. Injuries will be key all year, and the Irish can ill afford any on opening day, especially to the starting D-line. Running the ball for Temple will be a problem, and it will be on junior Connor Reilly to pass the ball. Reilly has never seen a snap as a QB in college, coming over from the baseball team. That doesn’t bode well for the Owls. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Irish pitch a shutout.
- Fresh talent. Notre Dame had one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, coming in at third. The class is littered with five and four-star players. There are a number of positions the Irish are either thin or inexperience at. If this game turns into a blowout, expect some of the freshmen to get valuable in-game experience.
The only realistic way that the Owls can win this game is if they manage to force multiple turnovers and score off a short field. I don’t see Temple being able to move the ball very well tomorrow.
Notre Dame’s offense may be a work in progress, but they’ll be able to move the ball well against the Owls. If not, it will be a very long season for the Irish faithful.
Our prediction, Notre Dame wins, 45-10.
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