Notre Dame’s Playoff Hope’s Still Alive

Notre Dame’s Playoff Hope’s Still Alive

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The Notre Dame kept their playoff hopes alive against the previously unbeaten Temple Owls. Notre Dame will not win any style points for the first November weekend win, but nevertheless they got the job done against a quality opponent.

Going into the season most pundits would have predicted this would be an easy game. But Temple is loaded with experienced players and Coach Matt Rhule has turned the Owls into an up and coming powerhouse.

For most of the game Notre Dame’s defensive line held the Temple running game in check. But the combination of good play calling, a stout defense which shut down Notre Dame’s running game and quarterback Connor Riley consistently finding open receivers on third down turned this game into a barn burner.

Temple’s undersized defensive line gave the vaunted Irish o-line trouble all night. C.J. Prosise, who has been the most constant force on Notre Dame’s offense all year, was held to just 25 yards running.

Deshone Kizer, however, rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns in addition to passing for another 299 yards.

Week after week he is showing marked improvement and proved his leadership skills when he called an audible, which turned out to be the winning touchdown throw to Will Fuller. Up until that moment, Temple had managed to keep Fuller in check, forcing Kizer to look towards Chris Brown for five receptions that evening.

One of the primary reasons that Temple made this game such a contest was the outstanding linebacker play of Tyler Matakevich. The 6’1″ 232 lb linebacker from Stratford, CT seemed to be everywhere on Saturday night.

He ended the game with 13 tackles and 1 interception, but those statistics do not do justice to his impact on this game. Like a red-haired demon, Matekevich haunted the Irish offense all night and seemed to be everywhere.

Temple proved Saturday night that they are not a fluke. Temple started the 2015 campaign with a shocking win over Penn State — a team they hadn’t beaten since 1941. In subsequent weeks they rolled off victories against Cincinnati, U Mass, Charlotte, Tulane, UCF, and East Carolina.

Given their 7-0 record coming into Saturday night, no one was really sure what to expect. But by the end of the night they proved that Coach Matt Rhule has this program pointed in the right direction. Their next big test will come on November 21st, when they face off against 15th ranked, and currently undefeated, Memphis.

Notre Dame still has a shot at getting into the college football playoff if they win out because several of the teams ranked above them have to play each other in the coming weeks (e.g. Ohio State vs Michigan State and Alabama vs LSU).

After the loss of several key players, including Malick Zaire, nobody imagined that the Irish would still be in contention for playoff spot. The fact that they are, demonstrates the quality of recruiting and coaching Brian Kelly and his staff have brought to the program.

If they can avoid any lapses in the next three games (versus Pitt, Wake Forest, and Boston College), it looks like the biggest game of the season will be against currently ranked no 9 Stanford.

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Categories: NCAA Football