It’s finally here. Notre Dame football is upon us with the opening game this Saturday, Sept. 2, at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame will play host to the Temple Owls for their home opener.
The Notre Dame-Temple series began in 2013 with Notre Dame winning 28-6. Temple will come to Notre Dame in search for their first win in program history against Notre Dame. They almost achieved that feat last year as they held a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter but thanks to Deshone Kizer leading the Irish down the field for a late score, Notre Dame ended up winning 24-20.
One of the biggest questions for Notre Dame coming into this game is how will Brandon Wimbush handle the pressure of being a starting quarterback and, of course, how will he play. One thing to say on this is that he has looked sharp and good in camp and the practices leading up to this game so far.
This defense he will be facing is a tough one. Temple is returning 4 starters on that side of the ball from last year and only looking to improve on what was already a solid defense. Three of those starters happen to be in the secondary on defense. This is a secondary and defense that ranked 3rd in the nation in average passing yards allowing 151.2 yards per game. Their run defense wasn’t much worse, ranking 25th in the nation only allowing an average of 130.4 yards per game. Their overall defensive ranking was 3rd in the nation. Not necessarily a formula for success for a new starting quarterback in Brandon Wimbush.
Another area of question for Notre Dame is the defense. The defense is under new leadership with Mike Elko taking the reigns as defensive coordinator. He will be trying to turn around a defense that under-performed like all hell last year allowing an astonishing 182.4 yards per game on the ground. Their overall defensive ranking was 42nd, which is necessarily terrible, but they had a little help in getting rid of the old defensive coordinator midway through the season and some weather conditions may have helped. The defense as a whole has looked good through training camp but a lot of that can be a cause of seeing the same offense, same plays and same people day in and day out. The real test will come when they finally play some one else, Temple.
The Fighting Irish defense, however, is returning a ton of players who saw action last year for the Irish. Drue Tranquill will return from his injury and look to play again as he will be a starter again. A few other names that may ring a bell is Nyles Morgan, Andrew Trumbetti, Greer Martini, Jerry Tillery, Nick Coleman and more. This defense looks to get off to a hot start against a Temple offense with many questions of their own.
The Temple offense entered training camp in a four way quarterback battle since Phillip Walker has left between Todd Centeio, Logan Marchi, Frank Nutile, and Anthony Russo, all of which could see playing time this Saturday. However, no matter who plays quarterback for the Owls, they will have weapons at their disposal with arguably one of the best receiving corps in the nation with Keith Kirkwood, Adonis Jennins and Ventell Bryant to name a few. This could prove to be a challenge for Notre Dame because we all know that Notre Dame isn’t known for having a great defensive secondary. Then throw in the fact that their running back, Ryquell Armstead is on the Doak Walker award watch list, this honestly could be a tougher game than people expect.
I will throw in my prediction for this game and I do believe Notre Dame will win this game, however, I believe it will be closer than some people expect it to be. Notre Dame wins, 28-17.
Brian Kelly will enter his 8th year at Notre Dame (59-31) in what some people would call a “make or break” year for the head coach.
Temple will begin a new season with a new head coach in Geoff Collins who begins his coaching era and head coaching career at Temple.