FORT WAYNE – Records: Irish (3-2), No. 22 Sun Devils (3-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Radio: 1190 AM, 107.3 FM
Web: To watch a video preview for today’s game, go to Irish Insights at www.journalgazette.net
3 matchups to watch
Notre Dame’s running game vs. Arizona State’s run defense: George Atkinson III finally emerged from a crowded Irish backfield to show he has the potential to be a go-to running back. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior ran for 148 yards and scored on an 80-yard run in last weekend’s 35-21 loss to No. 11 Oklahoma. Notre Dame finished with 220 rushing yards against the Sooners, boosting its rushing average from 114.3 yards per game to 135.4. Arizona State has struggled to stop the run, giving up 192.3 rushing yards per game. The Sun Devils have also given up more than 200 rushing yards in each of their last three games as Wisconsin ran for 210; Stanford 240 and USC 247. Arizona State has also given up nine rushing touchdowns.
Notre Dame’s front seven vs. Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly: The Irish face yet another dual-threat quarterback this week. Notre Dame dealt with Oklahoma’s Blake Bell, who threw for 232 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 59 yards, last week, and have also had to deal with Michigan’s Devin Gardner, Purdue’s Rob Henry and Michigan State’s Connor Cook. But Kelly is the best throwing quarterback Notre Dame has had to try to contain. The 6-2, 201-pound junior is No. 8 in the nation in passing yards with 1,370 and is tied for No. 11 in passing touchdowns with 11. He has also run for 124 yards on 27 carries.
Notre Dame’s offensive line vs. Arizona State’s defensive line: The Irish have done well in pass protection, giving up less than a sack per game at 0.8, and last week, the line of left tackle Zack Martin, left guard Chris Watt, center Nick Martin, right guard Christian Lombard and right tackle Ronnie Stanley paved the way for the Irish’s best rushing game of the season. In the Sun Devils, that line faces a team that is averaging 1.8 sacks. Nose tackle Will Sutton leads Arizona State’s line with 2 1/2 tackles for loss and a sack. Defensive end Jason Hood has 1 1/2 tackles for loss, and defensive end Gannon Conway has 2 tackles for loss and a sack.
Prediction: Arizona State 31, Notre Dame 24