Notre Dame opened their 2014 season with a rousing 48-17 victory over the Rice Owls, a team that won 10 games last season. The Fighting Irish not only covered the spread but made a statement in this game by doing so.
Coming into Saturday’s game, everyone on the outside believed that Notre Dame’s offense possessed explosive qualities. The team confirmed that with 576 yards of total offense. More importantly, they demonstrated their big-play ability with several chunk plays. Both of Everett Golson’s touchdown passes went for an average of 64 yards.
Not only did the offense prove itself, the defense changed the minds of many. The day began with bad news for the Fighting Irish. Hour before the game, sources reported that Redshirt Senior Safety Austin Collinsworth suffered a MCL injury in Thursday’s practice. However, without suspended players Ishaq Williams and KeiVarae Russell and the injured Austin Collinsworth, Notre Dame’s defense held firm against a team that averaged 29.6 points per game. Notre Dame allowed two touchdowns on long passing plays. The secondary busted coverages on both plays. The front seven, maybe Notre Dame’s biggest doubt, held Rice to 3.5 yards per carry. Overall, the Irish defense allowed 17 points and 367 yards. For the record, Notre Dame’s 2013 defense surrendered 22.4 points and 366.2 yards per game.
Of course, Notre Dame faces opponents much stronger than Rice. But, this game showed the potential this team possesses. The offense played well but did not execute 100% of the time. Some of Golson’s biggest players occurred when he improvised. This team holds the keys to an offense that score more than 35 points per game. Proper communication could prevent the two touchdowns yielded by the defense. If this team plays to its potential, they can play with ten of the eleven teams left on the schedule. All signs may point to a positive season but next week will give a real indication of this team’s makeup.