CFB Week 5 Preview – Cincinnati @ Notre Dame 19.30 UK Time (14.30). Week 5 of College Football looks like it might be a crucial one in terms of overall rankings. With three top 12 match-ups, its an incredibly important week for 6 teams. You’ve got Ole Miss @ Alabama, Arkansas @ Georgia and the one that i’ll be covering in this article, Cincinnati @ Notre Dame.
This Top 10 match-up is sure to be a classic. Both teams are undefeated so far on the season. Cincinnati will be looking to threaten Notre Dame’s 26 game home winning streak. Notre Dame’s most convincing win of the season came last week against a ranked Wisconsin team with a scoreline of 41-13. Whereas Cincinnati’s most convincing win of the season came against Indiana with a scoreline of 38-24. The winner of the game surely has to be put into the conversation for the Playoffs. Although whichever team loses should retain their spot in the Top 25 but will find it next to impossible to make it into the Top 4.
I was impressed with the performance by the Irish last week but don’t believe the scoreline fully reflects the game. The outcome could’ve easily been different if Wisconsin QB, Mertz, didn’t crumble in the 4th Quarter. Mertz threw 3 INT’s, 2 of which Notre Dame returned for TD’s. Going into the 4th Quarter it seemed very unlikely that Brian Kelly would overtake Knute Rockne and become Notre Dame’s all-time winningest coach. The game was tied at 10 apiece and Notre Dame was down to their 3rd string LT and backup QB. A stellar performance by the defense and a meltdown on the Wisconsin offence helped turn around Notre Dame’s fortune.
Speaking of Notre Dame’s defense, they really showed up when needed to. With Notre Dame already giving up sizeable points to worse offenses, it seems like the game against Wisconsin was the first time that Marcus Freeman (defensive coordinator) and his defense finally gelled together. The defense held Wisconsin to a single TD and intercepted Mertz 4 times. For this, among other things, PFF graded the defense a respectable 78.3.
There’s certainly some questions to be asked on the offensive side of the ball. Is Jack Coan the right QB? Its hard to judge the quality of Coan, considering he’s a pocket passer with a terrible O-Line. When watching him, it seems as though he holds onto the ball for far too long. Although this could be because the pocket collapses quickly. He came off injured in the 3rd quarter after being sacked for the 5th time. With Buchner being out with an injury it was down to 3rd string QB, Pyne, to win the game. Pyne played beyond all expectations, making the correct reads and throws. On 19 attempts he completed 10 passes for 81 yards and a TD.
There remains a lot to be seen from this Cincinnati team. With a fairly easy start to the season, its hard to judge how great this team is. Bearcat QB, Desmond Ridder, has played like a Heisman candidate from the start of the season (you can see his stats down below). I guess its helpful when you have 4 solid WR’s who all have over 100 receiving yards. The running game has got off to a fantastic start, especially with their RB Jerome Ford. Ford has rushed for slightly under 300 yards on 50 attempts, pounding home 6 TD’s. The O-Line isn’t the strongest which could be a factor int the game with a strong Notre Dame defense to contend with. In their 3 games, the O-Line has allowed 20 pressures, 15 of which forced Ridder to make hurried plays.
The defense has been a menace so far, achieving a PFF grade of 80.2. The defensive player that could really threaten Notre Dame, especially their O-Line, is Darrian Beavers. The Bearcat linebacker has played 190 snaps of football and achieved a PFF grade of 82.4. He has pressured the opposition QB 10 times and sacked them 3 times. Beavers has also made 13 tackles for a loss. With strong DT’s and ED’s I have a feeling that they could do damage against a poor Notre Dame O-Line.
Undrafted’s Notre Dame Talent Watch – Kyle Hamilton S
Hamilton had an unusually quiet game against Wisconsin. With PFF only giving him a grade of 64. I can see Hamilton balling out against Cincinnati. With the Bearcat’s being Notre Dame’s last ranked opponent, it could be the last chance Hamilton has to show NFL scouts that he can perform against good opposition. PFF have gave Hamilton a grade of 79.6 for his performances over Notre Dame’s 4 games. Another couple of decent performances and some more INT’s and I could easily see Hamilton being selected within the Top 10 in Aprils Draft.
Undrafted’s Cincinnati Talent Watch – Desmond Ridder QB
Ridder is somewhat in the same situation as Hamilton in terms of having an easy schedule.. With some fantastic looking QB’s for this years Draft, such as Matt Coral, this game could be Ridder’s last chance to prove himself against a tough defense. The potential 1st rounder has been given a grade of 87.7 by PFF. Ridder is an exciting talent to watch as a dual threat QB. in the running game he has ran for 128 yards in 14 attempts and 2 TD’s. In the passing game, he has threw for an impressive 746 yards and 7 TD’s. What is a slight concern for the Bearcat QB is his completion rate. On 83 attempts Ridder has only completed 54 passes, which is a 65.1%. He is certainly a player that could make the difference for Cincinnati.
CFB Week 5 Preview – Cincinnati @ Notre Dame