Notre Dame Opponents: FCS foes dominate weekends for Irish opponents, except for Wake Forest and Pittsburgh

There’s an old disparaging joke in college football circles, “SoCon Saturday.” It was a long shot on a November weekend when most of the SEC seemed to be playing FCS teams, mostly from the Southern Conference. Underestimation was aimed more at overlap than competition, creating an exciting late-season hiatus.

No such humor could apply to Notre Dame’s opponents this weekend, but only because the seven FCS opponents that the Irish’s seven opponents play come from from seven different conferences.

Yes, you read that correctly, seven of Notre Dame’s opponents host FCS teams this weekend, making the tally nine so far. By the end of the season, 11 out of 12 will have done so.

North Carolina State (1-0): The Wolfpack was relieved by Connecticut, 24-14, but at first glance the Huskies seem to have hit the ground running, something North Carolina is worried about with Notre Dame next on the schedule (12 ET; ABC). But of UConn’s 170 yards on 24 carries, 49 of them came on eight attempts on their first drive, the scripted drive. Another 71 yards came on a single touchdown dash. Otherwise, the Huskies gained 50 yards on 15 carries.

There may be hope in the defense of the Wolfpack, a 7.5-point underdog to the Irish with a combined score of over/under 51 pointing to a 30-22 score on Saturday.

Central Michigan (0-1): The Chippewas were defeated at Michigan State, 31-7, with no bright spot to mention. Dual threat quarterback Burt Emanuel Jr. was cornered, gaining 59 yards on 14 carries (sacks adjusted) and throwing for 87 yards on 17 pass attempts.

Not to be mean, but he should play a little better against New Hampshire (1:30 ET, ESPN+).

No. 5 Ohio State (1-0): For a moment, it looked like the Buckeyes might be tempted by a quarterback competition. They didn’t score much, which never changed in the 23-3 win over Indiana, with Devin Brown appearing at quarterback in place of Kyle McCord. But Brown only made a cameo, and the day belonged to McCord, for better or worse.

And it was mostly worse. Despite having the best receiving team in the country, McCord threw for only 239 yards and no touchdowns on 33 pass attempts, averaging 7.2 yards per attempt.

All that said, beating the Hoosiers was Ohio State’s only meager challenge before heading to South Bend on September 23rd. Next, Youngstown State (12 ET; BTN) before hosting Western Kentucky.

No. 21 Duke (1-0): The Blue Devils pulled off an upset of the opening weekend with a surprise Monday by defeating Clemson 28-7. The star of the show was quarterback Riley Leonard, already an NFL favorite but also now a national star among the college football ranks after rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown on eight carries while throwing for 175 yards on 17 of 33 passes. It wasn’t an explosive offense, but what stood out when getting those stats was that Duke didn’t give up a single sack.

For all its flaws, Clemson still has one of the best defensive lines in the country, but Blue Devils head coach Mike Elko β€” Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator for one year in 2017 β€” had a blueprint in place.

Maybe he can relax a bit this week with Lafayette visiting on the FCS level (6 ET; ESPN+).

Related reading: Ready or not, Duke is an ACC contender

Louisville (1-0): The Cardinals trailed Georgia Tech 28-13 at halftime on Friday, largely because two drives with a first down in the red zone resulted in only Louisville field goals. The third will happen early in the second half. Geoff Broom’s attack was not successful where it mattered most.

But it wasn’t really Broome’s offense. The pass-based head coach ran the ball 34 times while running back quarterback Jack Plummer just 31 times. Broome may be mitigating the new offense.

He accelerated the learning curve late in the game, and needed to move the ball around. On four runs through the third and fourth quarters, when Louisville scored three touchdowns, he threw the ball 10 times while running six. The surge led the Cardinals to a 39-34 win.

Now they host Murray State at the FCS level (7:30 ET; ACCN) tonight, and are favored over six touchdowns.

No. 6 USC (2-0): Heisman’s defensive tackle Caleb Williams has thrown for 597 yards and nine touchdowns this season. And the stats will come, especially when the score is up 66-14 against Nevada. Even more telling, Williams has rushed just 11 times this season for 40 yards. Part of it is due to the competitive nature of the start of the season against San Jose State and Nevada, but part of it is that Williams will try to protect himself until it becomes more important.

It won’t matter more against Stanford (10:30 ET; Fox), not as a 29-point favorite. But Williams would score plenty again, especially with a pregame total of 69.5 suggesting the Trojans could flirt with 50 points.

And it won’t matter for quite some time yet, likely not until USC heads to South Bend on Oct. 14. Between now and then, Williams and the Trojans will face No. 83 (Stanford), No. 75 (Arizona State), No. 82 (Colorado) and No. 58 (Arizona). Latest SP+ ratings.

Pittsburgh (1-0): Pittsburgh had no problem with Wofford last week, winning 45-7 as Phil Jurkovich threw for 214 yards and a touchdown on 23 pass attempts.

Life becomes immediately more difficult for the Panthers, as they host Cincinnati (6:30 ET; The CW) as the 7.5-point favorite. Let’s reiterate that this game is on the CW, and it’s part of a new ACC broadcast agreement that will only make more games more easily accessible to fans, even if the instinct is to laugh at the idea of ​​football on the CW.

Clemson (0-1): The Tigers probably shouldn’t have won Monday night, but turning four first downs inside their own 22-yard line into zero points isn’t going to cost anyone a game. Clemson fumbled twice after the first down, scoring from the one-yard line. It’s not hard to say that the Tigers had to beat Duke.

Not that there isn’t much to worry about.

That fitness shouldn’t be a concern against FCS-level Charleston Southern (2:15 ET; ESPN+).

Wake Forest (1-0): The Demon Deacons beat Elon by a score of 37-17. Now they’ll host Vanderbilt (11 a.m. ET; ACCN) and Clark Lea as the 10-point favorite.

Stanford (1-0): Take a closer look at the Cardinals’ 37-24 win in Hawaii to open the Troy Taylor era, and the result is still encouraging. Stanford had an explosive 32-yard touchdown plus score from short field. If we remove those points, plus the Rainbows’ score in overtime, the Cardinals will still lead 23-17.

This accounting may not be favorable against USC.

Navy (0-1): The Midshipmen enjoyed a week off after their transatlantic voyage, and now things just got a little tougher, as they host FCS-level Wagner (3:30 ET; CBSSN).

Tennessee (0-1): Arkansas-Pine Bluff Tigers host (7 ET; HBCUGo Sports).

Favorite: USC (-29) vs. Stanford; Pittsburgh (-7.5) vs. Cincinnati; Wake Forest (-10) vs. Vanderbilt.
Underdogs: North Carolina State (+7.5) vs. Notre Dame; Stanford (+29) at USC.

7:30 ET – Louisville vs. Murray State on ACCN.

11 ET – Wake Forest vs. Vanderbilt on ACCN.
12 ET – North Carolina vs. Notre Dame on ABC; Ohio State vs Youngstown State on BTN.
1:30 ET β€” Central Michigan vs. New Hampshire on ESPN+.
2:15 ET – Clemson vs. Charleston Southern on ESPN+.
3:30 ET – Navy v. Wagner on CBSSN.
6 ET – Duke vs. Lafayette on ESPN+.
6:30 ET β€” Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati on The CW.
7 ET – Tennessee State vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff on HBCUGo Sports.
10:30 ET – USC vs. Stanford on FOX.

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