South Florida vs. Notre Dame Preview

Notre Dame is favored by 25.5 points over USF with the over/under set at 48.5 total points

Chad Kainz, Flickr

Quick-Hitters

  • In their season-opener, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Duke Blue Devils 27-13.

  • Kyren Williams ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns in addition to being the team’s leading receiver against Duke.

  • South Florida defeated The Citadel 27-6 in their season debut.

  • USF averaged 7.7 yards per carry, but three quarterbacks combined to throw for just 102 passing yards.

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Notre Dame Looked Prepared

Last week, for the first time in program history, Notre Dame played a conference game, as the Fighting Irish have become temporary members of the ACC this year. This week, they’ll get back to traditional non-conference games following a sound 27-13 win over Duke in the season-opener.

It wasn’t exactly a dominant performance from the Notre Dame offense last week. While senior Ian Book gives them an experienced quarterback, the Fighting Irish have yet to locate consistent playmakers at wide receiver. Most of the damage through the air came via tight ends, indicating the Irish are lacking a vertical passing game. On the bright side, Kyren Williams appears to have answered Notre Dame’s question regarding the running back position. Williams ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns in addition to being the team’s leading receiver against Duke. With one of the most experienced offensive lines in the country ahead of him Williams, the rushing attack figures to be the focal point of the Notre Dame offense for the foreseeable future.

Defensively, the Fighting Irish did a nice job of keeping Duke under wraps last week. The Blue Devils managed just 73 rushing yards while allowing the Irish to sack quarterback Chase Brice three times. Defensive coordinator Clark Lea had some holes to fill before the season, but he put together a strong game plan against Duke.

An Unusual Offense

South Florida’s season-opener went well for rookie coach Jeff Scott, who took over at USF after more than a decade on Clemson’s coaching staff. Coming off a disappointing 4-8 season a year ago, Scott has his work cut out for him to get the Bulls back to the top of the AAC. Last week’s 27-6 win over The Citadel was a small step in the right direction.

Despite the win, the Bulls have some issues to sort out on offense. Three different quarterbacks played, but only combined for 102 passing yards. Starter Jordan McCloud completed 11-of-16 passes, but only totaled 68 yards through the air. The Bulls ended up doing most of their damage on the ground, amassing over 300 rushing yards while averaging 7.7 yards per carry. It was enough to beat The Citadel, but the Bulls will need a more balanced approach and they'll need more of a threat through the air moving forward.

Defensively, the Bulls had their way against The Citadel, but again, things won’t come so easy the rest of the way. A year ago, the Bulls were solid, but unspectacular defensively and return several key pieces. USF was able to force three turnovers against The Citadel while limiting quarterback Brandon Rainey to just four completions on 18 pass attempts. They'll take a huge step up in competition against Notre Dame.

Game Line

This will be the second all-time meeting between Notre Dame and USF. In 2011, Skip Holtz, the son of longtime Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, led the Bulls to a 23-20 win over Brian Kelly and the Irish in South Bend. Of course, with the spread at 25.5 points, that result is unlikely to repeat itself. In fact, the Bulls need to show a more competent passing attack than they did a week ago if they hope to keep this game competitive enough to beat the spread.

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