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Notre Dame at Air Force: What to watch for

Notre Dame will go for its third win in a row as the Irish (5-2) take on Air Force (1-6) in Colorado Springs, Colo., at 5 p.m. today.

Here are some things to keep an eye on in the game:

Possible clash of brothers: Notre Dame freshman defensive end Isaac Rochell could square off against his brother, Matt, at some point today. Matt Rochell is the starting left guard for the Falcons. Isaac Rochell has three tackles in seven games this year. Isaac Rochell could get some more playing time as the Irish will be without nose guard Louis Nix III, who is battling tendentious in his knee and will not play today.

Protecting Rees: Tommy Rees was cleared at the start of the week and didn’t miss a day of practice after leaving last week’s win over USC with a strained neck. Rees proved how important he is to the Irish offense by his absence, as Notre Dame only gained 25 yards in a quarter and a half against USC with backup Andrew Hendrix running the offense. The Irish have done a good job of protecting Rees this year, giving up only six sacks. And even though the sack that knocked Rees out of the game against the Trojans was because the senior didn’t check into the right look, according to coach Brian Kelly, expect Notre Dame to make sure its starter isn’t roughed up today.

How will the Irish attack the Falcons: Air Force is ranked 116th in total defense, giving up 488.7 yards per game. Opponents average 221.3 rushing yards and 267.4 passing yards against the Falcons. Notre Dame averages 135.9 rushing yards and 238.4 passing yards. The Irish’s rushing and passing numbers are only the 96th and 62nd best in college football, but they would seem to have plenty of fire power to attack a weak defense.

Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Air Force 10

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