Three keys: Notre Dame vs. Arizona State

Three keys: Notre Dame vs. Arizona State
October 3, 2013, 8:00 pm
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1. Start strong. This has been a problem for Notre Dame since Week 2 -- the first 15 minutes haven't good, especially against Purdue (a narrow win) and Oklahoma (a loss). Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State and Oklahoma have all scored the first touchdown against Notre Dame, and while coaches and players insist is hasn't taken them out of their gameplan, from a confidence standpoint getting settled in with a lead could go a long way against a powerful Arizona State attack.

2. Run effectively. Tommy Rees has no chance if there's no threat of a run game. But if George Atkinson, Amir Carlisle, Cam McDaniel, Tarean Folston or the possibly-not-forgotten Greg Bryant can established a balance on the ground, it'll open up far more scoring avenues for the Irish. Play-action passes will work better, in addition to having the backfield carry the offensive load if necessary. The good news: Arizona State is 93nd among FBS teams in rushing defense, allowing 192 yards per game.

3. Force a few turnovers. Arizona State's offense features an excellent quarterback (Taylor Kelly; third nationally with 342.5 passing yards per game), a versatile running back (Marion Grice; 8 rushing TDs, 22 receptions for 183 yards and 4 TDs) and an elite receiver (Jaelen Strong; 31 catches, 433 yards, 2 TDs). With those guys leading the charge, ASU rolled to 62 points against USC last week. This is an offense that'll gain plenty of yards and score plenty of points, but perhaps the best way for Notre Dame to put a dent in those efforts is to force a couple of turnovers. That's something Notre Dame hasn't done this year, though, but it'll likely have to change on Saturday for the Irish to win.

Prediction: Arizona State 31, Notre Dame 20.