SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Notre Dame looks to build off its huge opening win over Michigan as it welcomes Ball State on Saturday afternoon. The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish are heavy favorites against the Cardinals, who lost nine straight games to end the 2017 season but won their opener last week.
TV: 3:30 pm ET, NBC LINE: Notre Dame -34.5
Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush, last year’s starter who had to reclaim the No. 1 job in camp, came out throwing against the Wolverines and the senior had his team up 14-0 midway through the first quarter. “I thought he played with an edge to him, a confidence,” coach Brian Kelly told reporters after the game. Ball State is also looking to get to 2-0 on the season after dismantling Central Connecticut State, an FCS squad, 42-6 in its opener on Thursday. The Fighting Irish will be a much different test for the Cardinals, however, as these two Indiana-based schools meet for the first time.
ABOUT BALL STATE (1-0)
Ball State was led by quarterback Riley Neal and running back James Gilbert in the opener, both of whom missed the final nine games last season with injuries. Neal completed 23-of-30 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns against Central Connecticut, while Gilbert ran for 100 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. The Cardinals feasted on Central Connecticut’s run defense, with Caleb Huntley going for 73 yards on eight attempts and fellow running back Malik Dunner gaining 100 total yards and a touchdown on five rushes and four receptions.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (1-0)
Wimbush and the offense had things going early but skidded in the second half, managing only 69 yards and five first downs against a Wolverines’ defense loaded with future NFL draft picks. The Irish defense deserves full credit for the win last week, holding Michigan’s offense without a touchdown until was 2:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame compiled three sacks, including a strip sack by Irish defensive lineman Jerry Tillery in the final minute sealed the victory.
1. Notre Dame outrushed Michigan 132-58.
2. The Fighting Irish haven’t started a season 2-0 since 2015.
3. Ball State’s 652 offensive yards in the opener was a school record.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame 42, Ball State 10
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