Coming off one of the most embarrassing losses of the season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are likely out of the playoff race. The Irish are looking to rebound against one of the Big Ten‘s worst teams and improve to 8-2 on the year. The Northwestern Wildcats would love nothing more than to beat the Irish and ruin their chance at one of the top bowls in January.
After a year-long suspension, Everett Golson has come back to lead the 16th-best passing offense in the nation. The senior quarterback has passed for 2,757 yards and 24 touchdowns with an elevated 11 interceptions and 62 percent completion rate. The gunslinger has also been solid on the ground, rushing for 261 yards and seven touchdowns. The only rusher he trails in yards on the team is Tarean Folston who has 562 yards and three touchdowns. William Fuller has been the top receiver, catching 52 passes for 694 yards and 10 touchdowns. Corey Robinson is the next closest receiver, catching 32 passes for 450 yards and four touchdowns.
Northwestern’s offense has been as lethargic as they come this season, ranking 84th in pass yards, 114th in rush yards and 122nd in points per game. Trevor Siemian isn’t quite having the season he had hoped for, passing for 1,837 yards and just five touchdowns while throwing eight interceptions and completing 58 percent of his passes. His top target has been Kyle Prater who has caught 37 passes for 372 yards and a touchdown — Dan Vitale is the next wide out in line, catching 32 passes for 323 yards and a touchdown. No receiver has more than one touchdown catch this season. Freshman running back Justin Jackson has burst onto the scene for the Wildcats, rushing for 761 yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, the Wildcats have been staying alive in many games while the offense has sputtered. Northwestern owns the 31st-ranked scoring defense to go along with the 50th-best total defense in the nation. Notre Dame is coming off its worst defensive showing of the season, but overall, the Irish have the 57th-ranked scoring defense along with the 45th-best total defense. The Fighting Irish shouldn’t have a problem keeping the lowly Northwestern offense in check.
Northwestern will travel to Notre Dame to take on the Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 15. The game will be broadcasted on NBC.
PREDICTION: Northwestern 23, Notre Dame 41
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.