Arizona State vs. Notre Dame: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time, More
The Shamrock Series has taken Notre Dame all over the country for the past five years, but the result has always been the same.
A lopsided victory.
As such, this year's installment couldn't come at a better time for the Irish.
Brian Kelly's squad, fresh off an undefeated run to a national title appearance in January, has stumbled out of the gate to an underwhelming 3-2 start.
The Irish's Shamrock uniforms have equaled video game cheat-code status over the past four years, vaulting them to wins over Washington State, Army, Maryland and Miami (Fla.) by a combined score of 153-41.
This year figures to provide the biggest test, though, as Todd Graham's No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils bring with them some dangerous firepower.
ASU, for better or for worse, has been one of America's most exciting teams this season. Whether they are knocking off Wisconsin thanks to a kooky ending, getting crushed by Stanford or dropping 62 on USC, the Sun Devils always seem to put on a show.
That should be no different on Saturday against an Irish squad in desperate need of a fifth straight Shamrock win.
When: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Stadium (formerly known as Cowboys Stadium), Arlington, Texas
Betting Line (via Covers.com): Arizona State -5.5
Arizona State Injuries (via USA Today)
Notre Dame Injuries (via USA Today)
|Ben Councell||LB||First-Half Suspension||Out|
What to Watch For: Can Notre Dame Pressure Taylor Kelly?
So, this Sun Devils team is pretty decent at offense.
The running back tandem of Marion Grice and Deantre Lewis has been good enough to keep defenses honest for quarterback Taylor Kelly, who has churned out some gaudy numbers.
In four games, the red-hot junior has completed 61.4 percent of his throws for 1,370 yards (342.5 yards per game; 8.01 yards per attempt), 11 touchdowns and four interceptions while also tallying 27 carries for 124 yards on the ground.
He has a slew of weapons to choose from in Grice, tight end Chris Coyle, D.J. Foster and Jaelen Strong, who is quickly establishing himself as one of the best wide receivers in the country.
The Irish are going to have to pressure Kelly, get him to the ground and force some mistakes, which won't be easy.
According to TeamRankings.com, ASU is 15th in the country in sack percentage, allowing Kelly to be taken down just 2.74 percent of the time that he drops back (1.3 times per game).
On the other side of the ball, the Irish rank a brutal 119th in America in defensive sack percentage at just 2.08.
If both teams stay true to those numbers, and Kelly is able to sit comfortably in the pocket, the Sun Devils are going to be able to move the ball with ease all day long.
Guys like Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo are going to be critical in supplying pressure on Saturday.
Top 25 Implication
Arizona State took Notre Dame's spot in the 25 last week. The Irish went from No. 22 to unranked after a home loss to Oklahoma, while the Sun Devils climbed to that same No. 22 thanks to their drubbing of USC.
A win for Graham's side, and the Sun Devils could easily enter the top 20 for the first time since 2011.
A win for Kelly and the Irish, and these schools might just switch spots once again.
Prediction: Arizona State 31, Notre Dame 35
My confidence in Tommy Rees, especially after last week's showing, is basically non-existent at this point. However, Notre Dame's run game—behind explosive George Atkinson III, who carried the ball a career-high 14 times for 148 yards—finally woke up last week. Furthermore, Rees has plenty of talented receivers to rely upon.
Against an Arizona State defense that is 112th in America in yards per play allowed (6.8), the Irish offense should put together its most complete showing of the year.
Who ya got?
The Sun Devils will certainly be able to keep up, but Notre Dame has enough playmakers on defense to force a timely turnover or two.
The streak continues in what should be a scintillating, back-and-forth battle.
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