Week Four: Notre Dame vs. Oregon Preview
The Fighting Irish and the Ducks both sit at 2-1 on the season. When these two faced each other a season ago, it decided the fate of the Big Ten. That very much could be the case once again here, only it will heavily influence the playoff seeding for the Big Ten. Both teams have dealt with overtime games in the first couple of weeks here. Now we find out if we’ll end up there yet again.
Quarterback Leo Asiata has been effective, albeit quiet. He doesn’t light up the scoreboard, doesn’t dominate the stat sheet. The good news? He doesn’t need to. For all the work that tight end Alistair Kye and receivers Albert Saenz, Thaddeus Jefferson, and Ryan Hughes get, they’re not called upon to change the game. They can do it, but don’t have to do it often. The reason for that is because halfback Joe Pantoja has exploded for the Fighting Irish recently.
Notre Dame’s defense is a different story. They’ve had an interesting start. Not bad, they did after all hold Texas to 27 points and beat them in overtime. Defensive ends Shane Razorback and Maur Rivers have been making an impact, and quickly. More importantly is safeties MJ Pluth and Zeus Williams. Both of whom have been instrumental in orchestrating turnovers. Combine that with corner Tyrell Solo, and what he brings to the table, and Notre Dame is in good hands.
Quarterback Devonta Cribbs has turned things up a notch this season. So has receiver Dijon Swann, who went ballistic last week, recording 200+ receiving yards on 12 catches, scoring three times. Swann’s explosiveness combined with the threat of Cribbs’ legs and halfback Jimmy Tickle cannot be overstated. Add in tight end Davonte Lawson and receivers Coty Betts and Williams Cope? Well, this offense is potent.
Defensively, they’ve had some struggles, but safety Shaka Black has been able to quell most of them. As has defensive tackle Ben Marquez in conjunction with linebackers Joe Clark Jr. and Hollywood Sims. All four have been active and noisy in restricting the opposition’s rushing game. Corners Arik Austin and Kai Markston each have been playing well in limiting shots downfield.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Oregon’s offense is constructed in such a fashion, that they can threaten in multiple ways. On the ground with Cribbs and Tickle, through the air with Swann and Lawson. Betts will get carries and catches. This offense is multi-faceted, which means that Notre Dame had better be ready, otherwise, they may not know what hit them.
Both teams have been able to win close games, and both have victories in overtime. Oregon struggled to seal the deal a week ago, but they got gashed through the air. Notre Dame hasn’t shown us they’re willing to do that with Asiata yet. Notre Dame’s defense can handle itself, but even they could be overwhelmed by this Oregon offense. Give me the Ducks in a soaring victory.