Notre Dame vs. Northwestern fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, November 3
Game Time: 7:15 ET
Venue: Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
Notre Dame (8-0) vs. Northwestern (5-3) Game Preview
One Reason Why Notre Dame Will Win
The passing game is ripping teams apart.
Dexter Williams and the ground game continue to be great at times, but Ian Book and the air show are what’s carrying the offense.
Book hasn’t just been sharp, he’s been as good as any quarterback in college football – other than a few interceptions.
Granted, he’s given away three picks over the last two weeks, but he has also completed close to 82% of his throws in wins over Pitt and Navy. He’s connecting on 77% of his passes overall, and the big plays are coming.
Considering Northwestern didn’t have to deal with Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook last week, and its pass defense faced Rutgers before that, it’s been relatively easy lately. Before that, the Cats got hammered by Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez and was lit up by Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke.
Granted, the Wildcats won those last two games, but Nebraska and Michigan State aren’t as strong as Notre Dame.
The Irish secondary has been solid so far this season, there’s no Northwestern running game whatsoever, and as long as Book and company can get up early, there shouldn’t be much of an issue.
One Reason Why Northwestern Will Win
Clayton Thorson keeps on getting the job done.
It took him a few games to get back to form after coming back from the torn ACL suffered in the bowl game at the end of last year, and then it all started to click.
He led Northwestern back from the abyss against Nebraska with a miraculous comeback – and a 455-yard, three-score day – in the 34-31 win. Last week, he took advantage of a mistake-prone Wisconsin team, getting past three picks with 167 yards and a score with two rushing touchdowns. That might not seem like much, but he and the Cats are finding ways to get the job done.
Overall, Northwestern continues to defy logic and reason.
It manages to create the right breaks at the right time, the defense is somehow coming up with the big steps when needed, and the wins are there.
The team walks a very, very fine line. When it doesn’t come through in key moments or close out games well it get shocked by a team like Akron in the final moments, or can’t put away a sluggish Michigan.
But Notre Dame manages to struggle a bit too much at times. For all the good things the team is doing, it had a hard time with Pitt, Vanderbilt and Ball State.
What’s Going To Happen
It’s the third game in four dates for Notre Dame away from South Bend. How much will the trip to San Diego to face Navy last week matter?
This is a good Irish team, but it’s about to get bogged down in Northwestern’s world.
It’s going to take Irish mistakes, and it’ll require a nearly perfect performance from Thorson, but Northwestern drags down teams to its level.
It’s going to be sluggish, it’s going be ugly, and it’s going to be tense.
Just like Northwestern likes it.
Don’t be shocked if there’s some free football with an overtime involved.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Northwestern 26, Notre Dame 23
Line: Notre Dame -9.5, o/u: 53.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
Must See Rating: 4
5: Midterm election coverage next Tuesday night
1: Maryland press conference