Preview: USF at Notre Dame

September 16, 2020 by Staff

Notre Dame takes to the field for the second time this season when the Irish host South Florida on Saturday at 2:30 E.T. The game will be televised nationally, but has been moved to the USA Network to accommodate NBC's coverage of the U.S Open Golf Championship.

Notre Dame made school history this year by joining a conference for the first time in the 132-year tenure of the program. The Irish are playing as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and got off to a solid start by defeating Duke 27-13 in South Bend last week, making them 1-0 overall and 1-0 in the ACC.

Notre Dame is a member of the ACC in virtually all other sports.

The USF matchup marks the only non-conference game the Irish will play in the regular season.

Four graduate transfers -- CB Nick McCloud (North Carolina State), S Isaiah Pryor(Ohio State), WR Ben Skowronek (Northwestern) and K/P Dawson Goepferich (Brown) -- signed with the Irish this offseason. McCloud had 4 solo tackles and 1 pass defended vs. Duke, Pryor had 2 solo tackles, Showronek had no catches and left the game with an apparent hamstring injury in the 2nd quarter, and Goepferich is listed as the backup at PK and P.

Three offensive linemen (T Liam Eichenberg, G Aaron Banks and C Jarrett Patterson) and CB TaRiq Bracy were named to the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for their performances against Duke. The Notre Dame offensive line was also named PFF’s Offensive Line of the Week.

The Irish boast a current win streak of seven games, the second-most among Power 5 programs. And Notre Dame has won 19-consecutive games at Notre Dame Stadium for the third-longest winning streak at home since the stadium opened in 1930. Clemson and Ohio State are the only other Power 5 programs that boast home streaks of 18 or more games.

RB Kyren Williams exploded in his first-career start vs. Duke, rushing for 112 yards and adding 93 receiving yards, totaling 205 all-purpose yards on the day. He was the first Notre Dame player since at least 1996 to reach the 90-yard mark in both rushing and receiving in a single game. No FBS player had more all-purpose yards than Williams’ that week.

USF opened its 24th season of football and the Jeff Scott era with a 27-6 victory last Saturday over The Citadel (FCS) to improve to 18-6 in season openers and make Scott the fourth Bulls head coach out of five to win their debut.

Now, USF returns to South Bend for the first time since posting a 23-20 victory over the No. 16-ranked Irish to open the 2011 season. It's the first game of a 3-game road stretch for the Bulls with visits to FAU and Cincinnati to follow.

Against The Citadel, USF rushed for 302 yards and averaged 7.7 yards per carry, led by 87 yards (10.9 ypc) and one touchdown from sophomore Kelly Joiner. Johnny Ford added 71 yards on nine carries (7.9 ypc). The Citadel’s usually potent triple-option offense averaged just 3.7 yards per carry on 54 rushing attempts.

USF finished with three takeaways, had seven tackles for loss, and received 10 tackles and one forced fumble from junior linebacker Antonio Grier Jr. Wofford transfer Thad Mangum added a career-high nine tackles against his former conference foe, while three members of the secondary (Vincent Davis, Bentlee Sanders and Nick Roberts) had seven stops.

The USF special teams unit scored a touchdown when Freshman Omarion Dollison caught a botched punt attempt off the foot of Matt Campbell in the end zone in the second quarter.

Sophomore Jordan McCloud started at quarterback and passed for 68 yards and 1 TD.

The game opened at -21.5 in favor of Notre Dame, but had since balooned to 25.5 by Wednesday afternoon.

Consensus Odds: Notre Dame (-25.5)
Congrove Computer Rankings: Notre Dame (-36.57)