The No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish are looking to improve their record to 9-0 this Saturday when they face off on the road against the 5-3 Northwestern Wildcats. Northwestern has won three straight games, so this will not be a walk in the park for the Irish. Let’s look at three keys for Notre Dame to avoid a playoff-killing upset.
3. Get Off to a Fast Start
The Irish need to get off to a fast start and score first in order to take the Northwestern crowd out of the game and create doubt for the Wildcats that they can pull off an upset on the Irish. Ian Book and the offense must move the chains early and often.
2. Force Turnovers on Defense
The Northwestern offense is not a unit that will keep you up at night as an opposing coach. Quarterback Clayton Thorson already has 10 interceptions on the season, so he can be had for turnovers. Look for Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love to snag a pick off of Thorson and make things easier for the Irish offense.
1. Establish the Run Game
Northwestern’s defense is a strong unit, ranked No. 28 in total D in the country. They have given up less than 20 points in four of its last five contests. The Irish need to establish the run game led by Dexter Williams to chew up the clock and get the Northwestern defense tired.