Virginia, which is ranked No. 18 in the country, will visit the 10th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind., for their second road game of the season on Saturday. The Cavaliers (4-0) are coming off a home win over Old Dominion. ODU stormed out to a 17-0 early in the game, but Virginia turned on the light switch and reeled off 28 straight points to secure the 28-17 win behind another strong effort by Bryce Perkins. The Virginia defense had a pick-6 and a huge night from Charles Snowden (15 tackles, two sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss) on his way to National Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Notre Dame lost in the biggest matchup of the week to No. 3 Georgia, 23-17. Quarterback Ian Book relied heavily upon wide receiver Chase Claypool and tight end Cole Kmet, as the duo combined for 15 catches, 174 yards, and two touchdowns.
These two teams have only met twice, with Notre Dame winning both previous matchups.
Notre Dame is an 11-point favorite, and there has been no over/under set.
Cavaliers Out To Show They’re For Real
Virginia has wins over Florida State, Pittsburgh, Old Dominion, and William & Mary. Although they survived an upset scare last week against ODU, the Pittsburgh win is looking better by the week. Pittsburgh took Penn State to the wire and just handed UCF its first regular-season loss in three years.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall has turned the culture around at Virginia, and the Cavaliers have now been to bowl games in each of the last two years after not playing in one in each of their previous five seasons. Mendenhall will be on the shortlist for a lot of prime jobs after this season.
Perkins has been the leader for the Virginia offense. He has thrown for 843 yards on 81 of 124 passing and has six touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns on 53 carries. Joe Reed has been Perkins’ favorite target with 23 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns.
The strength of this Cavaliers team is its defense. They have only allowed 264 yards and 18 points per game. They have only allowed an average of 75 yards per game on the ground.
Notre Dame Can’t Lose
After a heartbreaking loss to Georgia, the Irish still have a chance to make the College Football Playoff, but they will need an undefeated finish and a little help. They still have enough quality opponents left on their schedule that they could be an attractive pick if they finish with just the one loss to a Georgia team that is only slightly behind Alabama and Clemson in my book.
Book’s numbers look good through three games, but he needs to complete more passes. He is only completing 61.7 percent of his passes on 58 of 94 passing, but he has thrown for 828 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Claypool has been his favorite target, catching 15 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
The Irish have averaged 144 yards per game on the ground. They are led by Tony Jones Jr. with 148 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown. Their backfield should get deeper with Jahmir Smith returning from injury.
The Irish defense has had a hard time stopping the run, giving up over 200 yards of rushing per game, but has done a good job against the pass, holding opponents to 157 yards per game in the air. Expect Notre Dame to keep a spy on Perkins to keep him from running.
Virginia is a really good football team, but it hasn’t faced anyone the quality of Notre Dame. That being said, this defense is for real. I think Virginia keeps this one close, and this defense will limit Book and the Irish. Virginia’s run game does enough to keep this one much closer than those in attendance in South Bend will like.
Notre Dame 27, Virginia 20
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