No. 4 Notre Dame will put its 21-game home winning streak on the line Saturday when it welcomes Louisville to South Bend, Indiana, for its third conference game as a temporary ACC member. It's the second game for the Fighting Irish after a three-week hiatus from competition due to several positive COVID-19 tests after the team's 52-0 win against South Florida on Sept. 19.
The program put a pause on all football activities and postponed its Sept. 26 date against Wake Forest to Dec. 12. Notre Dame had 25 players in isolation and 14 in quarantine, according to reports, but after a bye on Oct. 3 the team got most of those players back on the field for practice heading into last Saturday's 42-26 win against Florida State. Notre Dame did not look particularly sharp in the win, but it was still able to win handily thanks to a dominant performance on the ground from running backs Kyren Williams (185 rushing yards) and Chris Tyree (103 rushing yards).
Louisville is in a much different place than it expected to be heading into this game after three losses in its first three ACC games. The Cardinals could not stop Miami, then could not score against Pitt. After a week off to correct issues, Louisville got rolled by Georgia Tech last Friday night. Now 1-3 on the season, the Cardinals have a three-game losing streak for the first time under Scott Satterfield with a tough challenge to avoid losing a fourth straight against the top-five Irish on the road.
Keep on reading for a look at what's ahead in Notre Dame vs. Louisville, along with predictions on the game from our CBS Sports experts. Odds via William HIll Sportsbook
Notre Dame: Brian Kelly said this week that Notre Dame's defensive performance against Florida State was an anomaly in the 29-game run with Clark Lea at defensive coordinator. It was twice as many points as the Irish had given up in the first two games of the season combined and just the fifth time in those 29 games that Notre Dame had given up 26 or more points. The Irish have built a strong defensive identity over the last couple of years with veterans leading the way. That's why Kelly was was dismayed to see poor tackling and 405 yards of offense allowed. Some of that can be attributed to the three weeks off and players who missed practice time because of isolation and quarantine, but tightening up that defensive effort is clearly the most important concern to reaching ACC Championship level of play.
Louisville: There continue to be isolated points of pride for Louisville in 2020 that are negated by shortcomings that have cost the Cardinals the chance to win in ACC play. Running back Javian Hawkins leads the ACC in rushing with 468 yards after adding 155 yards to his total in the loss to Georgia Tech, but the Cardinals' defense continued to work against the progress made by those offensive gains as it now has allowed an average of 38.7 points per game in ACC play after the 46-27 loss to the Yellow Jackets. Louisville's offense shares some of the blame with three turnovers that led to 19 Georgia Tech points, and the Cardinals have now turned the ball over 11 times and created only three turnovers on the season. That -8 turnover margin is next-to-last in the ACC and No. 74 among 76 active FBS teams. If Louisville is going to let its offensive production lead the way, it has to stop limiting its impact with turnovers and a defense that can play well for stretches but ranks dead last in the ACC in plays of 30+ yards allowed.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 17 | Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Notre Dame Stadium -- South Bend, Indiana
TV: NBC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game prediction, picks
I just can't quit Louisville. The Cards have shown a lot of reasons -- most of them on defense -- to not be trusted on the road against one of the best teams in the conference, but I think this is a large number for the best offense that the Irish have faced all season. Pick: Louisville (+16.5)
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