Dropped from the national rankings, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet the No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils at neutral AT&T Stadium in Dallas on Saturday night.
Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly fell to Oklahoma 35-21 by allowing 450 offensive yards, including 212 yards on the ground and coughing up three turnovers. Quarterback Tommy Rees tossed three interceptions, while going 9-for-24 for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Junior running back George Atkinson III was the lone bright spot for the Irish offense, rushing for a game-high 148 yards and a score.
Better protection of the football has been a staple of Kelly’s four-year tenure at Notre Dame. The Irish are reportedly 12-0 under Kelly when they do not commit a turnover.
The Sun Devils put the final nail in Lane Kiffin’s coffin last week, with a 62-41 blowout over USC that included a 28-point third quarter. Quarterback Taylor Kelly went 23-for-34 for 351 yards and three touchdowns, and also led his team in rushing with 79 yards on the ground.
Jaelen Strong was Kelly’s favorite target on the day, making seven receptions for 103 yards, but senior running back Marion Grice also hauled in seven catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns. Grice also rushed for another 63 yards.
All told the Sun Devils out-dueled a talented but confused USC 42-27 in the second half, reaching the endzone in five of their final seven possessions.
“Well, I think it still comes down to, for us, if you look at the Oklahoma game, the two big plays that we gave up were critical. We can't afford to give up any big plays,” Kelly said during Wednesday’s press conference. “They catch the ball very well. They're a team that will challenge you on the perimeter throwing the football, and you have to keep Kelly in check running the football, as well. He's very capable through their zone read package of running the ball.”
This will be the third all-time meeting between the two schools, with Notre Dame claiming the previous two games back in 1998 and 1999.
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by NBC, or watch a live online stream at NBC Live Extra here.
Betting Odds: Arizona State favored by 6 points.
Over/Under: 62.5 points.
Prediction: Arizona State 37, Notre Dame 24