The Notre Dame Fighting Irish seem destined for a lost season regardless of what happens Saturday when they play the UNLV Rebels at home.
Upset by Stanford last week and with games against top 15 teams Syracuse and Clemson upcoming, the Fighting Irish are in dire need of a confidence-builder.
The offense, which played well behind Drew Pyne in three straight wins, fell flat against the Cardinal, scoring 14 points and barely topping 300 yards.
“It wasn’t a lack of effort in the game. It wasn’t a lack of preparation,” head coach Marcus Freeman, whose team has been outscored 27-6 in the first quarter this season, told the media. “It’s not correlating over to the results you want, so you have to look at what you’re doing and how you are doing it to figure out a better way to do it.”
The better way to do it may be without Freeman, who had the worst start (0-3) for a Notre Dame head coach and whose team has three winnable games left on the docket
The Rebels employed a high-scoring attack during their 4-1 start, averaging 37.8 points, but they mustered just two touchdowns in losses to San Jose State and Air Force.
Quarterback Doug Brumfield threw six passes against San Jose State prior to being injured and the sophomore was forced to sit out the game against Air Force.
Brumfield, who threw for 1,223 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 142 yards and five touchdowns during the first five games of the season, was still in the concussion protocol as of Monday, making him questionable to face the Irish.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Not uncommon with inexperienced quarterbacks, the sophomore Pyne gets fixated on Michael Mayer, missing potential opportunities to connect with other receivers.
Mayer has accounted for 31.5% of Notre Dame’s receptions and receiving yards and has four of the nine receiving touchdowns this season for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame was able to work in freshman Tobias Merriweather into last week’s game as the receiver scored a 41-yard touchdown on his first college catch.
Merriweather, a 6-4, 198-pounder out of Washington, was ranked in the top 200 nationally by all publications, including No. 79 overall by 247Sports.com.
Rebels running back Aidan Robbins has accounted for nine touchdowns, including one receiving, and only nine players have scored more in the FBS.
The junior, who graduated from Louisville, where he ran seven times for 51 yards and a touchdown in two seasons, is in the top four in the conference in several categories.
Robbins is third in the Mountain West with 591 yards rushing and eight rushing touchdowns, and fourth in rushing yards per game (84.4).
Despite missing most of the last two games, Brumfield still ranks second in the Mountain West in passing touchdowns (eight) and passing yards per game (205.2).
UNLV vs Notre Dame Game Injuries
UNLV vs Notre Dame Head-to-Head
This is the first meeting between the Fighting Irish and the Rebels. Since 1990, Notre Dame is 19-7 against opponents making their first trip to Notre Dame Stadium
The Fighting Irish are 31-6 vs. Mountain West teams, including 24-6 against Air Force
UNLV vs Notre Dame Game Information
- Game: UNLV vs Notre Dame
- Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
- Day/Time: Saturday, Oct. 22nd, 2:30 p.m. ET
- UNLV vs Notre Live Stream: ESPN
UNLV vs Notre Dame Betting Lines
UNLV vs Notre Dame Prediction
If Brumfield plays, the Rebels have a solid chance of covering the spread, if not win outright. If not, the Fighting Irish will move to 6-0 against the spread in their last six games against Mountain West teams. Take the Rebels against the spread.