Notre Dame football struggled to move the football against a feisty Louisville defense, falling 33-20 on the road tonight.
Tonight was a tale of two teams on totally different ends of the emotional spectrum. The tenth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish came into the game tonight needing to get up for another top-25 team after two emotionally draining games against #6 Ohio State and #17 Duke. Louisville had a disappointing performance against North Carolina State.
Coming into tonight, the Notre Dame football was the better team with the better roster, but — as the great Chris Berman says — that’s why you play the game. Louisville came in undefeated but had something to prove. Notre Dame football is in the middle of the gauntlet of ranked teams. Next week, the Irish host USC.
That said, this is Notre Dame football. The schedule is always tough; that’s what you sign up for when you play and coach in South Bend. Louisville was the better team tonight. The Cardinals were the more aggressive, physical team.
What went wrong for Notre Dame football?
Everything for the Irish begins and ends along the lines of scrimmage. Joe Alt and Blake Fisher are two of the better tackles in the country, and they struggled all night against Louisville’s rush ends. The Cardinals got to quarterback Sam Hartman five times, with EDGE rusher Ashton Gillotte recording two sacks tonight.
Hartman seemed to be under duress all night tonight. Part of the reason Hartman was on the run most of the night was Notre Dame’s wide receivers could not get separation against Louisville’s defensive backs. The Cardinals challenged the Irish to beat man coverage, and they could not. Louisville played a heavy box all night with either a single-high safety or zero coverage.
Notre Dame football’s inability to throw with any rhythm meant that Louisville would not lighten the box. As a result, the Irish did not have the numbers advantage in the run game. Audric Estime’s longest run was six yards.
Takeaways for Notre Dame football.
Louisville has been the bane of Sam Hartman’s existence. He’s lost to the Cardinals three times in the last four seasons. Hartman has three touchdowns and six interceptions in his last two starts, both on the road at Louisville.
After losing handily tonight, Marcus Freeman and his staff have to get this team off the mat and ready for the #9 USC Trojans and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.