Game Preview: UVA football hosts #9 Notre Dame

uva notre dameScott Stadium will be in a rare mood on Saturday, with a sellout crowd as the backdrop for the 2015 home opener for UVA as the Cavs host #11 Notre Dame.

With only one game each under the teams’ belts, they are nonetheless squads heading in vastly different directions already. Virginia laid several eggs in a 34-16 loss at #13 UCLA in a game that was not nearly as competitive as the score might seem to indicate, while Notre Dame smacked down Texas, 38-3, in a game that was similarly not anywhere near as competitive as even that lopsided final score might make it appear.

Notre Dame is a playoff contender; UVA is living down to the preseason prognostication of a last-place finish in the ACC Coastal.

Somehow, some way, the Irish are a mere 13-point favorite going in.

How does the matchup break down?

Notre Dame offense vs. UVA defense: Malik Zaire was near-perfect in his first start, going 19-for-22 passing againt the Longhorns, for 313 yards, three touchdowns, and a passer-efficiency rating of 250.9. (Yikes!) The Irish also ran for 214 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per attempt on the ground. The Virginia defense did little to nothing to stop or even slow down UCLA, sacking true freshman Josh Rosen once, hitting him one other time, and allowing him to go 28-for-35 passing for 351 yards and three touchdowns. The Bruins also ran for 152 yards and gained 4.5 yards per carry. This matchup ain’t gonna be pretty for the ‘Hoos.

Virginia offense vs. Notre Dame defense: Matt Johns had a serviceable game against UCLA (21-for-25, 238 yards, 1 TD/1 INT, 120.8 passer rating). The Cavs ran for 98 yards on 34 carries, gaining 2.9 yards per rush. Notre Dame allowed 163 total yards to Texas. Ugh.

Special Teams: Virginia punter Nicholas Conte averaged 50.5 yards per punt and had two of his four punts downed inside the 20. Placekicker Ian Frye was 3-for-3 on field goals. The Cavs averaged 12.5 yards per kick return. Notre Dame punter Tyler Newsome averaged 41.2 yards per kick, and had three kicks downed inside the 20. Placekicker Justin Yoon was 1-for-2, with a make from 38 and a miss from 45. The Irish returned one kickoff for 10 yards.

Forecast: The sample size is small, but from what we have to work with, Notre Dame is clicking on offense and defense, UVA is sluggish on offense and the French in World War II on defense. It’s hard to imagine that UVA could go into UCLA as unprepared to play as it did last week and then come out seven days later, after two crosscountry trips, and be able to beat a playoff contender. Final: Notre Dame 37, UVA 10.

– Preview by Chris Graham



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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

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