TV Schedule: Saturday, September 12 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Location: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Line: Notre Dame (-12.5)
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish stirred some echoes last week when they started their season off with a dominant 38-3 victory over the Texas Longhorns. That impressive win helped push the Irish into the top 10 this week heading into their road trip to Charlottesville where they take on a Virginia Cavaliers squad looking to bounce back after a season opening road loss.
For Notre Dame, the story of their Week 1 showcase was their defense, which allowed just three points and 163 total yards to the Longhorns in South Bend, and the arrival of Malik Zaire. After being named the starting quarterback this offseason, there has been plenty of buzz surrounding the quarterback who had primarily been an athletic change of pace for Brian Kelly‘s offense heading into this game. But last week, Zaire looked the part of a starting QB, completing 19 of 22 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns.
Virginia, on the other hand, watched their defense get torched in Week 1 by Josh Rosen and the UCLA Bruins in Pasadena to tune of 503 yards of total offense in a 34-16 loss. Quarterback Matt Johns, looking to turn around the QB struggles of the Cavaliers, was efficient in the loss, completing 21 of 35 pass attempts for 238 yards with a touchdown and an interception. A major issue for UVA, though, was their inability to finish drives with touchdowns early in the game, trading their field goals for touchdowns on the Bruins end.
While Virginia tends to play much better at home, going 5-2 in Scott Stadium in 2014 with a real shot to have been 7-0, Notre Dame is going to be a serious challenge for them to overcome. The explosiveness of the Irish offense last week coupled with the suffocating defensive effort could create another long afternoon for Virginia this week.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Virginia 17