Notre Dame vs. USF Preview

By: Max O'Neill
Posted: September 19, 2020

After a week one win over Duke University, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish make more history, with the first out of conference game in program history, when they face the USF Bulls. With the COVID-19 modified schedule, the South Florida Bulls are the only non-conference opponent Notre Dame plays this season. Notre Dame comes into this game as 25.5 point favorites.

In week one, Notre Dame hosted Duke and came away with a less than convincing 23-13 win. Running back Kyren Williams led the Fighting Irish offense with 19 carries for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. Defensively the Irish were led by Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah who had 9 tackles, including 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss for 9 yards. Notre Dame did lose grad transfer tight end Ben Skowronek to a hamstring injury in the middle of the second half of the Duke game. Skowronek is according to Brian Kelly, out for this game. The Irish did also lose safety Kyle Hamilton to a leg injury after his leg was rolled up on late in the game. Hamilton is day to day according to Coach Kelly. 

In week one, South Florida beat up on The Citadel, winning 27-6 at home. The Bulls were led by Kelly Joiner’s 8 rushes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, they were led by Antonio Grier who had 10 tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble. 

While the QBs struggled for USF, only throwing for 102 yards, the ground game helped them get the win, running for 302 yards. 

This is the second time that the two teams have played, with the first one being back in 2011 with the Bulls upsetting the then 2011 16th ranked Irish 23-20. 

Key for USF: Run for 200+ yards:

In new head coach Jeff Scott’s first game last week they ran for 205 yards. That picks up right where Scott’s predecessor, Charlie Strong left the program. Last season, the Bulls went 4-0 when running for 200+ yards in a game. As well, the program has won 27 straight games when rushing for 205+ yards. Their last loss in that category came back in 2016, when they gained 290 yards on the ground, in a 55-35 loss to Florida State. 

Key for Notre Dame: Don’t overlook USF

The Number 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish have Wake Forrest next week. This could serve as the first of a few trap games for the Golden Domers. Coach Brian Kelly has to make sure his team avoids that and avoids making the same mistakes they made the last time the Bulls went to South Bend when Kayvon Webster returned a Notre Dame fumble 96 yards for a touchdown in a 23-20 win. 

Prediction: Notre Dame wins 41-7.

In program history, the South Florida Bulls are 11-48 against ranked opponents. While the Golden Domers are on a 20-game home winning streak. Notre Dame has not lost to a team in the American Athletic Conference since 2016 when the Irish lost to Navy 28-27. Saturday will not be another loss to the AAC, as the Bulls run for a score. However, the trio of QBs in Jordan McCloud, Noah Johnson and Katravis Marsh will struggle against the Notre Dame front seven and the multiple looks that Clark Lea will throw at them and throw at least 3 interceptions, in what is an easy game for the Fighting Irish.

For more thoughts and opinions from Max, check out his author page or Twitter.

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