Here we go folks. The college football season is here, so once again the OFD Staff will be giving their staff picks throughout the year. As we did last season, each staff member will pick the winner of every football game for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this season.(just a straight up score prediction, so if you’re looking for over/under or ATS the score will tell you all you need to know).
We are also each taking one other team to follow throughout the season to pick their games. Some are our alma maters and some are possibly a good or interesting story for the season.
The Irish head south to take on the Louisville Cardinals, so hear we go...
Notre Dame 45, Louisville 17
The Irish roll on Labor Day night and set the tone for the season. Ian Book looks like Ian Book. The O-Line looks the way we want it to look. Jafar Armstrong has a breakout game and puts everyone on notice. The defense looks smothering. Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem provide constant pressure and get at least one sack each. Oh, and it also will help that Louisville isn’t that good. In other words, Notre Dame is going to do what they should do against lesser competition.
The game the whole Hoosier state will have their eyes on Saturday and it will be the Hoosiers that bring home the W. IU rolled Ball State last season in Bloomington and it is not like Ball State got dramatically better over the offseason. Indiana brings back some promising pieces on offense in Stevie Scott, Whop Philyor and Nick Westbrook to go along with newly named QB Michael Penix, who looked like the real deal as a freshman last year before tearing an ACL. NINE WIN INDIANA STARTS ON SATURDAY!
Notre Dame 28, Louisville 13
I’m sure UofL would probably prefer an easier opponent for the first game of the Scott Satterfield era, but here we are. On defense especially, Notre Dame is just way more talented. Like any week one game, there’s going to be some kinks to work out, but this should definitely be a two-score win for the Irish.
Unfortunately for the Beavers, a team I’ve developed a soft spot for living in Oregon, they are in the opposite of good shape. Many of their better defensive players are either hurt or left the team so the cupboard is pretty bare on that side of the ball. They have some decent playmakers on offense, but an average offensive line when they’re healthy. Oklahoma State is consistently a good offensive team who can exploit the Beavs’ weak defense.
Notre Dame 38, Louisville 20
Welcome back to the start of the season, people! Here’s the deal. The Irish have so much returning talent, and we don’t need to go into everything with that. Louisville just had an insanely hard year, and they are trying to figure things out with their new coach. I don’t see this being all that close of a game. 28-10 or something similar at halftime. The Cardinals score a garbage time touchdown to come within the spread of 20.5, giving some solace to the Louisville fans in their cute “Black Out.” Irish fans might not like that the game ends up “this close,” but I will take a double digit win against anybody any day of the week. Go Irish.
Central Michigan Chippewas 34, Albany 24
The Chips had an absolutely abysmal season last year. They went 1-11, and they did not beat any FBS opponents. Truly it was horrendous. However, they find themselves starting off against an FCS opponent in Albany. First year head coach Jim McElwain is looking to right the ship. He brought in a VT transfer in Kalil Pimpleton, a wide receiver initially from Muskegon, MI, not too far away from Mount Pleasant. McElwain also went out to get Tennessee transfer Quinten Dormady, a four-star quarterback. With some new additions, the Chips can at least probably look to start the season matching their total wins from last season. (Note: this game was picked before the game was played, even though this is published after the game has been played).
Notre Dame 37, Louisville 10
The Irish will not be intimidated in the slightest by the blackout and raucous home crowd in Cardinal Stadium. Ian Book will pick apart a Cardinal defense that was horrendous last season. I fully expect at least one touchdown pass exceeding 70 yards as the offense shows off the deep passing game that was lacking last season.
Far greater teams than the Redhawks have been tripped up against Iowa in a night setting at Kinnick Stadium. The Wave is back. Hawkeyes in a laugher.
Notre Dame 33, Louisville 12
Scott Satterfield is the new coach at Louisville. He was mildly successful at Appalachian State. It’s always difficult to play a new coach with a new system that you don’t have on tape. You have Louisville’s personnel and you have Scott Satterfield’s playcalling at Appalachian State. But to marry the two and try to figure out how this is going to go...plus Labor Day night! I’m not sure Louisville is a place that anyone is scared of, but weird things happen on the road. A combination of those things and opening night jitters -- or expectations being much higher for Notre Dame than they are for Louisville. Still, I’m not terribly concerned.
Fun fact: I picked Clemson as my second team to follow last year until Jessica Smetana pulled the ol’ “I went there, so...” card and I switched with her. She had picked UCLA, so I followed Chip Kelly’s slow descent into
alcoholism the Pac-12 cellar last year. This year, I’m picking our Cotton Bowl opponent Cincinnati and flipping Jessica’s score prediction from last year. Because it’s week one and no one knows anything.
Notre Dame 40, Louisville 3
With 4 minutes left in their first game since the College Football Playoff loss to Clemson, Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish will gaze upon a 33-3 score on the scoreboard. Immediately, all will be thrust into an episode of PTSD. To cope, Coach Kelly will order the Fighting Irish offense to press on, and Chip Long will call six straight slant passes to Chris Finke. On the seventh play, Ian Book will scramble to his left and waltz into the endzone, untouched. Touchdown, Irish. 40-3 is your final, and we all go back to therapy. Clashmore Mike will be brought back, and this time, he’s a therapy dog and a very good boy. Yes, I am ready for the season to start.
Miami-Ohio Redhawks 33, Iowa Hawkeyes 31
The RedHawks shock the Hawkeyes on the road and the college football world praises David Saylor for sticking with Chuck Martin as head coach despite mediocre results and unfulfilled potential. Thus begins the Miami RedHawk march to the MAC championship and a major bowl. We will all drink Trashcans from Brickstreet and order some DP Dough, but we’ll pass out before it is delivered. Is the guy that rides that tricycle bike thing to deliver DP Dough still alive?
Notre Dame 38, Louisville 17
The game is never close but never gets to the point of a real beatdown. I think the offense is crisp, but people aren’t satisfied because Ian Book isn’t launching bombs all over the place. Notre Dame will go up by 20+ and give up a late FG/TD on some type of trick play. With the Irish consistently up, we will see what the wide range of talent can do across the board. I will be focusing on the LBs as well as the RBs to get a feel of what rotations will look like throughout the season.
Holy Cross Crusaders 14, Navy Midshipmen 35
Holy Cross comes out HOT and are only down 14-7 going into the half. However, Navy’s option persistence beats down the Saders. They come in and play hard and the loss is not too discouraging or a sign of the season ahead. The Bob Chesney era is officially here and will look to dominate the Patriot League (the out of conference schedule is absurd this year).
Notre Dame 38, Louisville 14
First game of the year for both, so teams will attempt to control the ball and the tempo. As the game progresses, Notre Dame simply has too much talent for Louisville. First half might be be close but in the second half, Irish will overpower this opponent and pull away to win easily, 38 - 14.
Arkansas Razorbacks 51, Portland St 13
Arkansas being a SEC team on the improve, will have no trouble in soundly beating Portland St. All Arkansas has to be concerned about is not coming out of this game with injuries. No contest, Arkansas 51 - Portland State 13
Notre Dame 34, Louisville 17
Louisville will be a much improved team from a season ago under new coach Scott Satterfield, but this *shouldn’t be* too much of a problem for the Irish in the opener on Monday night. They have a massive advantage in the trenches with their size and experience, and Ian Book’s back for another strong campaign despite some issues on the perimeter with injuries. Silly mishaps like penalties will occur, but it’s Week 1. I like the Irish to cruise here.
For my second team pick of the season, I’ll take the new-look Wildcats, as they open their season against the Rockets. UK lost a lot from last year’s Citrus Bowl-winning side, including two-time all-conference running back Benny Snell, but I think quarterback Terry Wilson will help the Cats pick up the slack in the opener.
Notre Dame 41, Louisville 17
This game shouldn’t be very close outside of the opening of the first quarter...hopefully. Notre Dame should be able to use the end of the game to test some inexperienced players, possibly including Jonathan Doerer and the kicking game. It may also be important for Notre Dame to break the 40 point barrier a few times early in the season to build some favor with the playoff selection committee.
Gardner Minshew and his ‘stache may be gone, but Mike Leach is still around, and that’s all the Cougars will need against NMSU. Expect Wazzu to iron out some of the kinks of a new quarterback early, but it shouldn’t take long for them to take advantage of a defense that ranked 113th in SP+ last year. This should be the perfect opening matchup for Washington State to start the season on a strong foot.
Notre Dame 44, Louisville 20
I feel that this game is going to have an “Alabama” feel to it, as the irish rack up points while leaning on Louisville throughout the game. Some might say that is “consistency.” Whatever you want to call it, Ian Book will be efficient, and the Irish offense forces the Louisville offense to play from behind and pass more than they would like. Looking for a big sack night from the ND defensive ends. I’m calling that 7 of those points from Louisville will come from a TD return on special teams.
Eastern Michigan Eagles 31, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 29
EMU starts the season on the road in South Carolina — a season that has 7 total road trips. Eastern has to replace their entire offensive line (and have a new OL coach), but returns all of their skill position players. Their biggest loss from last season is Maxx Crosby on the defensive line, but this is still a formidable defense — especially in the secondary. Tough football has become a Chris Creighton trademark, and I like EMU to get it done on the teal turf.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 41, Louisville Cardinals 17
I truly believe Scott Satterfield and his staff will make a world of difference for the Cardinals, and UL will come out with a lot of energy and keep it close with the Irish for a half. But I also think in the second half the talent gap between the two programs will become more evident, as the ND defense imposes its will a bit on Jawon Pass and his crew while Ian Book and his offense get into a groove and start hanging some points on an improved, but still not very good (after being horrible last year), Louisville defense. The Irish end up rolling into their weird bye week next weekend and winning by 3+ scores.
Kansas Jayhawks 31, Indiana State Sycamores 14
The Jayhawks begin the wacky and wild Les Miles era by marching into Terre Haute and solidly defeating the Sycamores, and get off to a great start as Kansas prepares to take over the Big 12 over the next decade with the Mad Hatter at the helm. Rock chalk, baby.
Notre Dame 38, Louisville 17
The Cardinals’ new coaching staff and coaching style will have a visible impact, but Ian Book will be hyped to the max, and this will show in the cohesion of the Irish offense. He has gotten a feel for his role, and now it’s all about confidence. I see the new Irish attitude being key to a Monday night victory, no matter how big the spotlight. The Irish fell 31-28 to Louisville in South Bend in their most recent and only game against the Cardinals in 2014. Though it will be Ian Book’s characteristic accuracy that will overpower the Cardinals’ new style. The Irish Quarterback claimed the school’s single-season completion record of 68.2. In all, the Irish have what it takes to make a statement Monday.
The Buckeyes have this one locked down. Though starting quarterback Justin Fields will make his debut, his inexperience won’t cost his team in this matchup. The Owls are continuing recovery from an injury-plagued 2018 season. I predict fearless Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins will bring the most critical complement to the Buckeyes’ newest and most visible playmaker to get the win.