Each week in this space, we examine two things: Notre Dame’s strength of schedule (from USA Today‘s Sagarin rankings), and who Irish opponents are facing. For those of who want to scout future opponents, I’ll give you my recommendation for who to watch when you’re not watching Notre Dame Football.
Who To Watch
Southern Cal (2-2) at Arizona (2-2), Sat 10:30 PM ET on ESPN2
I really tried to get y’all an earlier game this week but alas we venture into #Pac12AfterDark territory Saturday after ND-Stanford wraps. USC is undefeated at home and winless on the road this year, and we’ll see if this trend continues in the desert. Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin has a mobile quarterback (Khalil Tate) which could show the Irish coaching staff some things for Brandon Wimbush as the prepare for the end of season tilt in Los Angeles.
It’ll also be interesting to see how SC’s offense continues to evolve. Their run game has stalled, and a one-dimensional gameplan with a young quarterback will match up well with Notre Dame’s experienced defense on Thanksgiving weekend. However, Southern Cal has plenty of time to evolve and add new competencies against conference competition. The current line on this game is a field goal, so expect this one to be close late (or early, depending on your time zone).
Also this Week
Other Upcoming Opponents
- Syracuse (4-0) at Clemson (Sat 12:00 PM ET, ABC)
- Florida State (2-2) at Louisville (Sat 3:30 PM ET, ESPN2)
- Pittsburgh (2-2) at Central Florida (Sat 3:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
- Northwestern (1-2) vs Michigan (3-1) (Sat 4:30 PM ET, Fox)
- Virginia Tech (2-1) at Duke (Sat 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
- Ball State (1-3) vs Kent State (Sat 3:00 PM ET, ESPN+)
- Wake Forest (2-2) vs Rice (Sat 3:30 PM ET, ACC Network)
- Vanderbilt (2-2) vs Tennessee State (Sat 4:00 PM ET, SEC Network)
Last week, ND opponents went 5-6. On the year, opponents have a combined record of 27-19 (58.7%) with an average schedule strength of 65.
Contrary to most of the schedule strength comments around last Saturday’s Virginia Tech – Old Dominion didn’t hurt Notre Dame’s schedule strength…that distinction goes to Florida State and Syracuse, with wins over Northern Illinois and UConn, respectively. These were offset by Vanderbilt’s loss to a strong South Carolina squad and Stanford’s overtime win at Oregon, setting up Saturday’s top-10 matchup.