#9 Notre Dame vs #7 Cincinnati Game Preview, Prediction

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brian kelly notre dame

#9 Notre Dame (4-0) versus #7 Cincinnati (3-0, 0-0 AAC) is a pretty interesting game for several reasons that go beyond the simple fact that it’s a match-up of two top ten teams. On Saturday, in South Bend, we’ll see Brian Kelly take on the program he led just before he took the ND job.

The Fighting Irish’s Defensive Coordinator, Marcus Freeman, held the same position at Cincinnati for three seasons, ending his time in the Queen City just last year. In other words, storylines abound!

Another major storyline here is the spread itself. It’s really close and it’s hard to determine who the real favorite is here. If you click on betastic.com/sports-betting/ and you take a look at the various lines, you’ll see the Irish favored -1.5 at some sports books while other bookies have them +1.5. Or is this essentially a pick’em?

The line seems to keep moving back and forth, and probably will continue doing so, depending on what kind of action is being placed on which team and that in itself is compelling; we’ll see if the game is just as exciting.

Other Notre Dame vs Cincinnati Game FYIs:
Saturday, October 2 | 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Notre Dame Stadium | South Bend, IN
cincinnati bearcats cheerleaders
Luke Fickell’s team come into this with a whole lot to prove, as a mid-major that gets left out of the big boy table in college football. This happens with regularity in the sport, and the Bearcats’ hugely successful 2020 still hasn’t done much to change the national perception of the team outside of Ohio.
Quarterback Desmond Ritter leads an offense that picked up exactly where they left off last season. In 2020, they scored 30 or more points in six of their eight regular-season wins. They enter this game averaging 43 points per game, good for second in the AAC and eighth in all of FBS. They are extremely explosive, and it’s going to be a tremendous test for this Irish defense, one that is ball-hawking to say the least.
Led by All-American safety and first round NFL prospect Kyle Hamilton, the Irish bring a stout pass defense, especially against the pass that leads the nation in interceptions with nine. They picked off four passes in the win over Wisconsin at Soldier Field last week.
Half of those INTs resulted in pick-sixes and that took a game that was close, in the fourth quarter and turned it into a blowout late. The Irish were actually out-gained in that game, but the interception returns for touchdowns made the final box score extremely lopsided.
It was ND’s most impressive victory of the season, as the Badgers were the best team they’ve faced this season.
This will be an even bigger test, and the difference here could once again be determined by turnovers; especially so if it is points off TOs. It’s a tired, shopworn cliche, sure, but in games like this it really has strong consequence on the outcome.
Fickell always seems to be linked with openings at the top jobs in football, all across the nation, the past couple years. This would be a huge signature win for him, and if he achieves it, and finishes the season strong, well, he’ll be able to write his own ticket this off-season.
Fickell
Prediction: #7 Cincinnati Bearcats 24, #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 20 
Kelly enters this game ahead of Knute Rockne as the school’s all-time leader in wins now, but we’re picking Fickell and company in this one.

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