The biggest game of the week in college football was the Shamrock Series matchup in Chicago between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Wisconsin Badgers. Both ESPN and FOX anchored their pregame shows there, and at least in the midwest, this matchup had a ton extra juice attached to it — and that’s even without the whole Jack Coan saga.
In the end, the game delivered many of the as advertised pieces, but it also got weird enough to stand out as something greater.
Jack Coan had a very uneven game for the Irish. Before he left the game with an injury, Coan went 15-29 158 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked five times with the final sack being what caused his injury. Drew Pyne’s arrival started off just as shaky, but he steadied himself in his first REAL game action and finished the day 6-8 for 81 yards and a touchdown. While Pyne certainly had an incident against the pass rush, Coan’s issues continue to go about with no real improvement.
Notre Dame now has 3 different quarterbacks that have touchdown passes in non-garbage time during the first four games of the season.
In Kelly’s post game presser, he definitively said that Jack Coan is the starter and will start next week against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
NO FLY ZONE
Kyle Hamilton is an All-American, but to be a great pass defense, Notre Dame needed more production from the other member of the secondary. Against Wisconsin, CB Cam Hart pulled in two interceptions that help put the Irish in a position to win in the second half. Linebackers Jack Kiser and Drew White added even more to the cause with an interception return for touchdown each in the 4th quarter.
Wide receiver Kevin Austin had a terrible game against Purdue, but many in and around the program were confident that Austin would have a big game against the Badgers. To be honest, I thought Austin ran several lazy routes and didn’t look like he was running at full speed. It ended up not mattering much because of the 6 receptions that he did pull in — two of them were for a score. It was a nice answer to his showing last week, and probably more indicative of what the rest of the season will look like.
A SPECIAL MOMENT
Notre Dame needed something after Wisconsin scored 10 points straight to take a 13-10 lead early in the 4th quarter. The Notre Dame offense had just punted three times in a row before the fumble that lead to the Badger field goal. On a kickoff that went to the 4 yard line, and close to the sideline, running back Chris Tyree exploded for a 96 yard return for s touchdown to put the Irish back up 17-13. It was, essentially, the go ahead score. It was the first kick return for touchdown since CJ Sanders did it against Army in 2016.
ON 3RD DOWN
The game from start to finish was one of the strangest fun games I have ever witnessed. Wisconsin, for example, did not convert on 3rd down until the 3rd quarter — and that one time was it. The Badgers were an abysmal 1-14 on 3rd down during the game. They were also 0-1 on 4th down as well. Much of this success was due in large part of creating down and distance issues with Wisconsin. The Irish, for argument’s sake, weren’t much better on 3rd down on offense with a 5-16 conversion mark.
JAY BRAMBLETT IS A WEAPON
Notre Dame punter, Jay Bramblett, had another outstanding performance. He punted 7 times and averaged over 46 yards per punt — with one of those punts going 72 yards. It was the longest punt by a Notre Dame player since Hunter Smith booted one 79 yards against Arizona State in 1998. In a game where every little thing affected every other little thing, flipping field position is always a huge thing, and Bramblett is doing his job really well.
THINK ABOUT THIS FOR A MINUTE
Notre Dame just won a game by 28 points against a top 15 team, and the Irish had a grand total of 3 rushing yards. Even if you take the sack adjusted yards — that’s still only 42 yards. Is that as strange as holding a Wisconsin team to 74 yards rushing? To be honest... I don’t really know. One is a recipe for success while the other is a recipe for imminent disaster.
- Love that the Irish were rocking out to Jump Around in the lockers after the game.
- Love that Brian Kelly got a penalty for, basically, standing up for Kyle Hamilton — because screw those guys.
- Speaking of penalties... the Irish received 11 flags on the day while Wisconsin got 5. On one play alone there were about 4 stupidly obvious holding calls missed against the Badgers. There were also about 3 obvious DPI’s.
- The Irish are 4-0 and many teams are not.