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Oct 23, 2013

Score Prediction: Flying High v. Air Force

Notre Dame Fightin' Irish v. Air Force Fightin' Falcons
Saturday, Oct. 26, 5:00 p.m. ET, Colorado Springs, CO

My alma mater returns to the land of my birth (I was born on the Air Force Academy campus) this weekend to take on my second favorite college football team.  Here's what Fightin' Irish fans can expect:

Key Matchup:  Fightin' Irish D-Line v. Fightin' Falcon Triple-Option:  Brian Kelly said it best when he described the Air Force Triple-Option as something his star nose-tackle Louis Nix simply wasn't built for.  Realistically, the same goes for the rest of Notre Dame's D-Line as well.  At 300+ lbs., they will all outweigh the opponents they line up across from by at least 50 lbs. on each and every play.  That doesn't necessarily make their jobs easier, though, as the Fightin' Falcon offense relies on quick movements and cut blocks to consistently move the chains with their shifty rushing attack.  Look for Nix to play a much-diminished role due to his dinged up shoulder and a skill-set that simply doesn't mesh with this type of game.  That means Diaco's more mobile D-linemen must step up to the challenge by maintaining contain and letting the LBs take care of their assignments.  Brains will matter more than braun in this one.  Hopefully they're using fall break to study plenty of film.

Fightin' Irish Offense v. Fightin' Falcon DefenseNotre Dame just needs to play efficient, mistake-free football.  Exploiting mismatches should be easy, as Air Force literally won't be able to cover bigger receiving threats like Troy Niklas or Davaris Daniels.  The Fightin' Falcons rank outside the top 100 in terms of both pass and rush defense, giving up over 37 points on average every game.  Look for the Fightin' Irish to top that total by putting up at least 40.

Fightin' Irish Defense v. Fightin' Falcon Offense:  Every member of Diaco's defense must stay disciplined and track all of their assignments.  Air Force impressively ranks 12th when it comes to yards gained on the ground, so Notre Dame should know what they're in for.  It might take a quarter or two to adjust, but by the time the second half rolls around the Fightin' Irish will have worn down their opponents' rushing attack.

Final Outcome:  The only way Air Force can possibly win is by playing keep-away.  If they can consistently average 3+ yards per carry with their Triple-Option attack, they may be able to limit Notre Dame's possessions enough to keep the game close.  If that happens, the final score will reflect the turnover differential.  Luckily, I don't think any of that will happen.  Notre Dame has far too much talent on both sides of the ball for the Fightin' Falcons to hang.  Expect ND to cover the spread.

Score Prediction:
Fightin' Irish: 41
Fightin' Falcons: 17

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2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(