After the Nevada Wolf Pack survived a thrilling 30-27 overtime victory over Cal Poly on Friday night, their reward is traveling to South Bend to face the 18th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday at 12:30pm on NBC.
This will be Nevada's second trip to South Bend since 2009 when the Wolf Pack were shut out by the Irish 35-0 in that year's season opener. This time, the Wolf Pack are facing an Irish team that is coming off a heartbreaking double overtime loss to Texas on Sunday 50-47 and looking to bounce back with a win.
The Wolf Pack are 27 point underdogs to Notre Dame which is the largest underdog spread since last year when the Wolf Pack were 34 point underdogs to the Texas A&M Aggies but the Wolf Pack only lost the game by a score of 44-27.
Wolf Pack head coach, and former Notre Dame assistant, Brian Polian is not looking for the Wolf Pack to give just a good effort against the Irish.
"We're not trying to keep it close", Polian said about their contest with Notre Dame. "I want to win. I would never get up in front of our team or say publicly ‘Boy we're just trying to keep it close'. I want to win."
Polian is looking to shock the college football world yet, he and the rest of the Wolf Pack have a tough task going up against an explosive Notre Dame offense and in particular, quarterback DeShone Kizer. On Sunday, Kizer, completed 15 of 24 passes for 215 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 77 yards on 13 attempts for a rushing touchdown while splitting time with fellow quarterback Malik Zaire.
It was announced today that Irish head coach Brian Kelly named Kizer the starter for the game against the Wolf Pack over Zaire. But no matter who was going to start at quarterback for Notre Dame, stopping that offense is going to be a tough task for the fairly young Wolf Pack defense.
The Wolf Pack do have some hope if they want to defeat the Irish and that is taking advantage of an Irish defense that was gashed on Sunday by the Longhorns. Notre Dame gave up over 500 yards on offense to Texas and 237 of those yards came on the ground where the Wolf Pack's strength is running the ball. The Wolf Pack did gain 174 yards rushing on Friday night so look for James Butler to get a lot of touches as the Wolf Pack look to test that Irish defense and possibly set up some big pass plays to put pressure on the Notre Dame pass defense.
This will be the biggest stage that the Nevada Wolf Pack will play this season with the game being nationally televised on NBC and I do think that Nevada can possibly exploit the Irish defense particularly in the running game. However, I think Notre Dame has more talent on offense and will do damage to Nevada's young defense on Saturday on the way to an Irish victory over Nevada.
Prediction: Norte Dame 45 Nevada 31