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Notre Dame vs. Ball State: Who, what, when, where, why and by how much?

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WHO? No. 8 Notre Dame vs. Ball State.

WHAT? The colloquial phrase for it is a “guarantee game.” Notre Dame has promised Ball State a check (for $1.1 million in this case) to come visit the Irish and expect no trip to Muncie, Ind., in return. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly took his fair share of guarantee games when he led Central Michigan.
“How much was the guarantee for, that was the first question,” Kelly said Thursday of his thought process back in those days. “Better be a big one.
“But we were there to compete. We’re there to go out and catch you off guard and go and complete. We’re going to go up there and give it our best shot, we’ve got nothing to lose, nobody expects us to win this football game. Let’s go out there and shock the world.”

WHEN? 3:30 p.m. ET. In an attempt to begin preemptive warnings — and not an attempt to confuse today — realize next week’s game against Vanderbilt is at 2:30 p.m. ET, for the sake of variety, if nothing else.

WHERE? Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
NBC will have the national broadcast, with the game streaming online here.
If not in the United States, NBC Sports Gold should serve your needs. (And if ever searching for that link while in the U.S., do not feel foolish when it does not show up no matter your online search terms. Domestic IP addresses automatically filter it out, which leads to a number of emails up the chain of command wondering why an idiotic scribe cannot find a simple url.)

WHY? It is becoming a quiet Notre Dame tradition and a neat one at that. When the Irish can, they give a bump to a former administrator or coach by incorporating their new team into the schedule. Think back to Charley Molnar intending to visit with Massachusetts in 2015, Brian Polian bringing in Nevada in 2016 and Chuck Martin arriving with Miami (OH) last year.
“We [got] this game set up with Ball State when Bill Scholl, a former (deputy) athletic director here at Notre Dame, was there,” Kelly said Sunday. “It’s one of those games where you try to reward somebody that was part of Notre Dame.”
Scholl now serves as the athletic director at Marquette, so it is rather unlikely he gets another game onto the Irish football slate anytime soon.
Note: Next year’s contest with New Mexico, coached by former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie, should not be conflated with this trend, though it does give reason to keep an eye on Davie this season, currently 1-0 and facing No. 5 Wisconsin today in Madison at 12 p.m. ET (BTN).

BY HOW MUCH? Suffice it to say, Notre Dame is favored. By a lot. 34.5 points, to be exact, with a combined point total over/under of 61.5 creating a framework for a 48-13 Irish victory.
Suggesting Notre Dame will cover that seems ambitious, but a few factors play into such a thought:
— The Irish won by 35 points twice last season, against Martin’s RedHawks, 52-17, and against USC, 49-14. This year’s iteration may not be able to rely on the run as much as 2017’s did, but it should not need such a dominant ground game to still dictate this contest with it.
— In week two, a lackadaisical approach should not be expected. As Kelly said Thursday, “Reasonable people would look at it’s early in the season. They haven’t played a whole lot of football.”
— If Notre Dame can build a lead and get freshman quarterback Phil Jurkovec into the game with some of his classmates or some of the second-string, it will not be to twiddle their thumbs. Letting Jurkovec cut loose on a few passes will serve a defendable purpose.
— If the Irish defense is anything like its coordinator Clark Lea, it will take some pride in limiting an opponent to as few points as possible, no matter the deficit or the opponent.
That’s all well and good, but how about an actual prediction? Well, this is where sometimes one takes pride in the wrong things. He spends an inordinate amount of time looking at three early games from each of Cardinals’ head coach Mike Neu’s first two years at Ball State. In those six contests, each team averaged 13.5 possessions.
Round down and then presume Notre Dame has the ball at the end of each half. 11 possessions. One turnover would not be shocking. 10 possessions. Fifth-year punter Tyler Newsome figures to take the field at least once. Nine possessions. Perhaps two of those result in field goals. And then remember the aforementioned over/under.

Notre Dame 55, Ball State 6.
(1-0 in pick; 1-0 against the spread, 1-0 point total.)

INSIDE THE IRISH READING:
Whether he is a RB or a WR, Armstrong looks to make plays for Notre Dame
Questions for the Week: Who can kick off? Will Notre Dame’s nickel package change with time?
Notre Dame’s Opponents: Facing a tough weekend after a strong start
Kickoff woes go beyond the kicker
The time may already be now for Notre Dame’s freshmen
And In That Corner … The Ball State Cardinals
Things To Learn: Chance to see all three Notre Dame quarterbacks
Offensive line could benefit from struggles with Michigan’s pass rush
Friday at 4: How will Notre Dame handle NCAA’s eligibility changes?

OUTSIDE READING:
How much Ball State makes from Notre Dame and how it ranks with other future opponents
Is Notre Dame bound for the College Football Playoffs?
FBI raids Yorktown home of Muncie police officer, father of Ball St. QB Riley Neal
FAA investigating close call between Cessna and F-15s involved in flyover at Notre Dame game
J.T. Daniels connection with Amon-Ra St. Brown is real ($)
Who is responsible for Willie Taggart’s big Florida State debut going up in flames?
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