Notre Dame Football: Staff Predictions vs. Northwestern

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 27: Miles Boykin #81, with Nic Weishar #82 and Chase Claypool #83, of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the 1st half against the Navy Midshipmen at SDCCU Stadium on October 27, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 27: Miles Boykin #81, with Nic Weishar #82 and Chase Claypool #83, of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the 1st half against the Navy Midshipmen at SDCCU Stadium on October 27, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame football will face Northwestern in the first game since the Irish received a No. 4 ranking in the College Football Playoff poll.

As the 2018 Notre Dame football season rolls along, it’s time once again for the Irish to play one of those games that has everyone a little bit nervous. Every game is a playoff game for Notre Dame from here on out, and there are no slouches left on the schedule — starting with Northwestern.

Here’s how our the writers on our staff see Saturday’s game shaking out.

Carlee North

Looking at the history in the past several years, Notre Dame has normally played poorly after facing off against Navy and the triple option. Will that trend continue when they head to Evanston Saturday night?

I don’t think so.
My biggest concern is the road environment and hype, but the Irish faced that toughest test earlier in the season when they traveled to Blacksburg. Comparing the two just isn’t possible. Anything can happen on the road in college football, but I think this team will be fully locked in and will continue to surge.

I can’t see Northwestern scoring more than 25 points against this defense, and I can’t see the Irish offense scoring less than 30. So there’s that. Notre Dame wins 34-20 and heads back home undefeated with Florida State waiting in the wings.

Chase Eyrich

Northwestern’s best chance to pull off the upset is to cause chaos on the defensive end. They have a solid defense and their D-line against Notre Dame’s O-line could be an issue. Ian Book has been more efficient than we could of expected, which gives me confidence that the offense will not struggle behind Book’s arm. Notre Dame, 38-21.

Connor McJunkin

Northwestern is a game many had circled before the season started as being a tougher opponent than most would think. They have already played three ranked Big 10 opponents and took Michigan to the wire. This will be the best defense the Irish have faced since Stanford and their offense is averaging 280 yards through the air per game.

I like the Irish defense’s matchup vs. a one-dimensional Northwestern offense. So as long as the Irish offense can continue their success and find ways to put points on the board, it should be another W. It won’t be a blowout, but the Irish take care of business 38-20.

Jack Leniart

The Irish are heading back to the Midwest to face a Northwestern team that has won four in a row. The last time these two teams met was in 2014, when Notre Dame blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost in overtime. This game will be close for the first three quarters, but Notre Dame should pull away late. I think the Irish will have another 11-point lead in the fourth quarter in Saturday’s game that they will hold until the clock hits zero. Notre Dame 31, Northwestern 20.

Nathan Erbach

I think this game will be a lot like the Virginia Tech game. Close at half time, but eventually Notre Dame takes over late, winning convincingly. The keys will be the turnover battle and the rushing attack. I expect Williams and Armstrong to make the most of their opportunities and Book to protect the football as he’s done all year. Notre Dame will be 9-0 Sunday morning. Irish 31, Northwestern 18.

Mason Plummer

This is gonna be a tough-fought game where ND relies heavily on the running game. Expect Dexter Williams to carry the Irish to 9-0 with 100+ yards and a few TDs. Notre Dame wins 27-20.

Paul Walsh

Northwestern has been on a bit of a tear lately. However, quarterback Clayton Thorson has been up and down. I think the Irish defense makes life difficult for Thorson as they dial up the pressure up front and continue to play excellent pass defense. Book stays hot and limits mistakes while Dexter Williams continues to roll. Irish win a tough game away, 28-17

Sonny Martinez

This could very well be the toughest game of the season so far. Granted, Northwestern is not as good as Michigan, but the home swing makes a difference.

What worries me the most in this game is the Northwestern defense. They don’t have eye popping stats, but they’re extremely physical and lead by a very good linebacking group. I’m not worried about Notre Dame’s ability to shut down the Wildcats offense, provided they slow Clayton Thorson.

The question is: which Northwestern do we see? The early season Wildcats who (aside from Purdue) couldn’t get out of their own way, or the more recent team that has played some lights out football?

The Irish are currently a 9.5 point favorite, which feels like a lot on the road. I think Notre Dame can pull out the win, but I’m not seeing a double digit victory. Notre Dame 27, Northwestern 23

J.P. Scott

Sure, the Wildcats are 5-3 and atop the Big Ten West, but you need to dive deeper into those numbers. They beat a Purdue team still finding itself early on. They beat flawed and injured Michigan State and Wisconsin teams respectively. Nebraska choked away a ten-point lead in Evanston with five minutes to go. The other win was against Rutgers. Sure, they kept the game with Michigan close, but most teams do. That’s how Michigan plays.

Next. 3 Bold Predictions vs. Northwestern. dark

Bottom line: Northwestern is average at best. Their secondary is not bad and the linebackers are decent. That said, Notre Dame will be able to run the ball at will, control the clock and stifle the Wildcat offense. This will be a slow, sound, methodical blowout win for the Irish. Notre Dame wins 42-13.