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OPPONENT PREVIEW: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Head Coach: Charlie Weis

Record: 5-2

Offense: 30.0 PPG, 6.2 YPP

Notre Dame has been excellent on offense and that is due in large part to their two stars.  Jimmy Clausen has been one of the top quarterbacks in the nation through the first seven games of the year.  His favorite target, Golden Tate, has been equally dominating at the wide receiver position.

The Irish have put up big numbers in the air.  Clausen throws for 292.9 yards per game.  He has thrown just two interceptions in 230 attempts in 2009.  He will not turn the ball over and he has been very efficient, completing 65.2 percent of his passes.  Golden Tate averages 16.29 yards per catch and is a threat to go the distance every time he has the ball in his hands.

The running game has not been nearly as effective as its passing counterpart, but it still has been serviceable.  As a team, Notre Dame averages 3.74 yards per carry.  Junior running back Armando Allen, Jr.  has done well in his limited carries (14.86/game).  When he has the ball in his hands, the Irish move an average of 4.94 hashes.

Finally, Washington State will once again face a team that does not turn the ball over much.  Notre Dame has given the ball away just five times through seven games.  The Cougar defense has only been effective when they have created turnovers, so they may be in for a long night in San Antonio.

Defense: 24.1 PPG. 6.2 YPP

If there is any reason that Cougar fans should have more hope for this game than others, it is because the Fighting Irish are just flat out bad on the defensive side of the ball.  If the defense was even average, Notre Dame would be running away in a lot of their games.  That has not been the case and the Irish have had to rely on several last minute drives by Clausen and Co. to bail them out.

The yards per play show that teams have been able to move the ball on Notre Dame.  However, they have been able to bend without breaking at times.  Teams have scored just 17 out of 24 times when reaching the red zone.  Some of that can be attributed to the forced turnovers.  Notre Dame has 15 takeaways on the year.

Senior defensive back Kyle McCarthy is far and away the most prolific tackler for the Irish with 59 on the season (Isn't it funny how the leading tackler on bad defenses are always the backs?).  He also has been able to pick off a team-high five passes.  Notre Dame lacks a dominant pass rusher, as linebacker Darius Fleming and defensive end John Ryan are tied for the team lead in sacks with two each.

The Irish are in trouble if:  They let Washington State hang around.  They've been in a lot of close games this year and have come out on top with a little bit of luck more often than not.  These things seem to have a way of evening out, especially with a defense that bad.  The Irish have the capability to bury the Cougars early (like every other team on the planet) with their quick strike offense.  If they don't, they could be in for another wild ride.

In all likelihood though, that is not going to happen.  Notre Dame should have very little trouble moving the ball against the Cougs.