Ranking: #9 in both polls
Best Win: Pittsburgh
Worst Loss: N/A
Points Per Game: 45.8 (4th)
Rushing Offense: 188.7 (32nd)
Passing Offense: 248.3 (39th)
Points Allowed: 14.0 (9th)
Rushing Defense: 97.3 (13th)
Passing Defense: 155.7 (6th)
Utah is the only team currently ranked on the rest of Notre Dame’s schedule, checking in at #9 in both polls. Head Coach Kyle Whittingham has his Utes rolling once again with an eye on crashing the BCS party—and maybe much more than that if the cards break the right way.
The Utes are led by a stifling defense that’s ranked in the top 15 in the three major statistical categories. After a heart-stopping overtime victory against Pitt in the season opener they’ve gone about flattening every team that has gotten in their way.
When you look at the entire body of work though, Utah may be a bit overrated. Their victory over Pitt looks weaker and weaker with each passing Panther loss and the Utes have yet to play anyone else that qualifies as even remotely good. When they arrive in South Bend they’ll be in the final leg of a brutal three game stretch: at Air Force, vs TCU, and at Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Notre Dame will be fresh off a bye.
There’s a good chance Utah will be exposed by the time they take the field against the Irish…but there’s also a chance they’ll be ranked in the top five. That ranking shouldn’t make fans think the Irish are dead in the water though—after all, Notre Dame was an unsuccessful trick play away from defeating now #7 Michigan State on the road.
Prediction: Notre Dame 23, Utah 21…The Irish catch Utah at their weakest after two brutal games against Air Force and TCU and pull the “upset” at home.