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CFB Data Preview: Notre Dame vs Louisville

The data story going into the Irish’s week 6 matchup against the Cardinals!

Tennessee State v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s time for another weekend of college football! For their first October game the Irish will be facing off against the Louisville Cardinals. Louisville is coming into the game undefeated and ranked. They’ve had a solid run though the first portion of the season and predictions for the game’s outcome are mixed.

So let’s dig through the data and see what we can pull out.

Opponent History

This Saturday will mark the fourth time the two programs have met on the football field and Notre Dame leads the series 2-1. The Irish dropped their first game against Louisville back in 2014 by a -3 point margin (28-31). ND walked away victorious from their 2019 (35 – 17) and 2020 (12 – 7) matchups and are looking to add a third consecutive win.

Schedule Overview

The Cardinals are undefeated through Week 5 in the 2023 season. Louisville has outscored its opponents 185 – 86 and is averaging a +19.8 win margin per game.

Their biggest win, in terms of point margin, came in their shutout (56 – 0) rout of Murray State in Week 2. Their closest game was last weekend against NC State. In a pretty competitive game that went down to the wire Louisville walked away with a 13 -10 win. For reference, the Irish beat NC State 45 – 24 earlier on this season.

Offensive Summary

Louisville is averaging 494 yards of total offense per game in 2023. Their best outings were against Murray State (690 yards) and Boston College (582 yards). They hit their season low of 306 total offensive yards in last week’s win against NC State.

The Cardinals started the season off with a pretty even split of passing and rushing production. Since the Indiana game in Week 3, though, the passing game has trended towards being the primary weapon. Passing yards accounted for 93% of total offensive yardage.

Passing Summary

Generally, Louisville’s passing completion rate has floated between 58-60%. Senior quarterback Jack Plummer hit a season high 86% completion rate against Boston College, completing 18 of 21 attempts. The Cardinals have averaged around 8 yards per reception in their two most competitive games against Georgia Tech and NC State.

Rushing Summary

Against Georgia Tech and NC State, Louisville utilized the rushing game the least. They tallied up 34 and 29 respective attempts. In sum, they’re averaging around 37 attempts per game through Week 5 of 20223. The team hit a season high of 7.8 yards per carry against Murray State but since then their rushing efficiency has dropped off a cliff.

Turnover Summary

Except for the Boston College game, Louisville has turned the ball over at least once every weekend through this point in the season. Interceptions have been the main culprit. They’ve thrown six in total and two in their last game alone against NC State. They also coughed up their first lost fumble against the Wolfpack.

Final Thoughts

I’m not going to beat around the bush here and just say that by all metrics Notre Dame should walk away from this weekend’s game with a big win. The Cardinals have been successful this season, can’t take that away from them. But their defense has allowed lesser opponents to put up points and their offense is trending in a heavily one-dimensional direction.

Given the growth that we’ve seen from all layers of the Irish’s defense over the last couple weeks and with a healthier offense that’s now leaning into mixing in the wide receiver-running back-tight end components, I just don’t see a lot of scenarios in which this goes bad. Notre Dame by a wide margin.

Cheers and Go Irish!!