Notre Dame's football season kicks off tomorrow with their first game against Temple. It's Friday, and that means game prediction time for the ISD Staff. Anyone pick the Owls?
Are the days of struggling in the opener a thing of the past for the Irish under Irish head coach Brian Kelly? The Irish sunk Navy last year in Dublin, 50-10, in what should've been an indication of what was to come.
Temple really is undermanned and outclassed in this game, but that doesn't mean they'll lay down for Notre Dame. I'm very interested to see how this team shows up for their first game.
I think we'll see a mixture of running and passing in this game, and I think Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin know the importance of hitting a few big plays in the passing game to give Michigan something to be concerned about.
I think we'll see the Irish come out on a mission on Saturday and take care of business early. I expect the game to be essentially over at half time with a number of the second string playing much of the fourth quarter.
I just can't see a way Temple can play with Notre Dame.
Notre Dame: 42 Temple: 13
Much like last season, the Irish cruise to an impressive opening win. The stingy Irish defense leads the way, limiting the Owls' offensive production, creating a pair of early turnovers and giving those who have said this year's defense could be better the last a little bit more ammunition.
The Notre Dame offense does its part as well as Tommy Rees engineers four scoring drives in the first half, including a pair of touchdown passes - one to Troy Niklas and another to TJ Jones. George Atkinson III impresses as do a host of freshmen across the board, including touted running back Greg Bryant. Temple doesn't get more than a first-half field goal until the game is well out of reach.
Notre Dame: 41 Temple: 10
A new season begins with an old familiar face when the Irish take on Temple this Saturday. Tommy Rees is back at quarterback and from everything we have seen in a few glimpses during training camp, he looks to have improved since his last stint as a full-time starter in 2011.
Temple was horrible both offensively and defensively in 2012, but they return a big core of players from their 4-7 team and the also have a new head coach, Matt Rhule, that is looking to re-instill the kind of toughness the program had before Al Golden left Philadelphia to take over at Miami.
In addition to a first-time head coach, the Owls also have a first-time starting quarterback in Connor Reilly. That combination, in addition to an overall lack of playmakers on offense and two new safeties at the back end of the defense will be too much to pose a real challenge for the Irish.
Tommy Rees will throw a pair of touchdowns - with at least one going deep to either DaVaris Daniels or Chris Brown - and George Atkinson will break 100 yards on the ground as the Fighting Irish win their second consecutive season-opener in convincing fashion.
Notre Dame: 35 Temple: 14
Scheduling Notre Dame a few years ago seemed like a good idea at the time for Temple, but the Owl’s good feelings of anticipation and hope are crushed early by a Fighting Irish team that is primed and ready to play.
The Notre Dame ground game is too much to handle for the outmanned Temple defense and they find themselves with no choice but to move their safeties about eight yards from the line of scrimmage to help with the run. When this happens, the much ballyhooed Irish receivers live up to the expectations and take full advantage of a defense so focused on stopping the run that they forget about the pass. Play-action is a monster for Notre Dame and it looks easy at times with how well it works. Tommy Rees is able to mix and match what plays fit best with what the Owls are attempting to do against the offense and has a near perfect game. In the end, the guys in the gold helmets rack up over 500 yards of offense and a late turnover is the only blemish on their scorecard.
The Fighting Irish defense is led by their front seven with Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix III, and Prince Shembo leading the way. Nix is basically unblockable and he spends more time in the backfield than Temple’s own running backs. The inside linebacker rotation of Dan Fox, Carlo Calabrese and Jarrett Grace prove to be solid against the run. Grace picks up where Manti Te’o left off and hauls in his first career interception, one of three turnovers forced by the Notre Dame defense. Temple never gets in a rhythm and they’re in third and long so much that everyone in Notre Dame Stadium knows what’s coming. The Irish end up with four sacks on the afternoon with a number of quarterback flushes and hurries. Temple gets a late field goal in the first half and another one in the fourth quarter. They are held to under 125 yards of offense.
Notre Dame: 45 Temple: 6