WHO? No. 9 Notre Dame vs. Louisville.
WHAT? The Labor Day showcase fits the Irish schedule due to the elongated season, a convenient perk of the Julian Calendar. An added weekend to the fall means Notre Dame does not have a short week following this opener. Rather than play in five days, the Irish will have 12 to prepare for New Mexico.
Don’t take that for granted. While it will still be the case next year after Notre Dame heads to Dublin to face Navy, an abbreviated week will await the Irish in September of 2021 after another Labor Day spotlight at Florida State.
WHEN? 8 ET. Some may argue the kickoff should be an hour or two earlier as the only game of the day, keeping it from running to Tuesday, but these are the realities of television, advertising and capitalism.
WHERE? Cardinal Stadium, Louisville. Yes, the building used to be named after a nationwide pizza corporation. It holds just more than 60,000, and will presumably be filled to capacity for head coach Scott Satterfield’s debut.
ESPN has the broadcast, meaning the ESPN app is your friend. Note: The Watch ESPN app no longer exists, so look to the actual ESPN app that you previously only used for score updates.
WHY? Projecting competitive moments years in advance is difficult, which works to Irish favor this season. If Notre Dame had opened against Louisville a few years ago, the Cardinals would have been distinct favorites with the best player on the field. Now, though, it serves as an appropriate opener a la the quality most Playoff contenders face in week one.
BY HOW MUCH?
For months, the Irish were favored by 20.5 points, but this week has seen that number tick downward to 18. The combined point total over/under of 54.5 implies a final score of 36-18.
Giving up 18 points would be a surprise for Notre Dame, even with inexperience rampant up the middle of its defense. First-time starters at both tackle positions and a first-time starting middle linebacker do not usually set the stage for a strong defensive performance. But the rest of the Irish defense is that talented and proven.
On top of that, Louisville’s offense is expected to be that poor. Though Irish head coach Brian Kelly spent some of Wednesday praising the Cardinals receivers, they will have plenty of difficulty getting open enough for inefficient quarterback Jawon Pass to get them the ball.
Limiting Louisville makes that projected margin look slim.
Seeing the spread drop by a few points indicates this space is actually higher on Notre Dame than most.
Notre Dame 42, Louisville 10.
INSIDE THE IRISH READING:
— Four freshmen set to play Labor Day at Louisville
— Notes from Notre Dame’s released depth chart
— Notre Dame’s Opponents: Two ACC matchups highlight a weekend of devoid drama
— And In That Corner: Louisville
— 40 predictions: Notre Dame will return to the Cotton Bowl, not the Playoff
— A final prediction on Notre Dame’s record
— Things To Learn: Notre Dame’s opener will hinge on the basics
— Led by Ian Book and an underrated defense, Notre Dame is set to dethrone the Power Five in 2019
— Ravens cut Michael Floyd
— College football broadcast guide, including a look at a ‘Big’ studio show showdown ($)
— How to watch college football