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Five things to know about Notre Dame football as it prepares to play the Badgers
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Five things to know about Notre Dame football as it prepares to play the Badgers

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Purdue Notre Dame Football JC

Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan throws against Purdue during their game earlier this season in South Bend, Ind.

The University of Wisconsin football team is going on its first trip away from Camp Randall Stadium as it heads to Chicago for a neutral site game against Notre Dame. The teams are meeting at Soldier Field for the first of two matchups in the next four years. 

Week 4 of college football lacks any top 10 matchups, so No. 12 Notre Dame vs. No. 18 Wisconsin has garnered a lot of attention. The Badgers are the 5-6 point favorites to win, according to multiple betting sites.

Here’s five things to know about Notre Dame’s football team.

Jack Coan as a member of the Fighting Irish

The biggest matchup many people will have their eyes on is the battle between Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan and UW quarterback Graham Mertz. Coan was the starter at UW for 18 games over three seasons before Mertz took over in 2020 after Coan injured his foot in preseason camp.

Coan has averaged 8.4 yards passing per attempt this season while Mertz has averaged six yards per attempt. Coan also boasts an average of more than 300 yards passing per game with nine touchdown passes, two interceptions and a 62.6% completion rate. 

The Irish utilize a two quarterback system that puts backup Tyler Buchner in for a change of pace, but Coan has seen the bulk of the snaps.

The offensive line

The history of the O-line at Notre Dame rivals that of the Badgers O-line. However, the Notre Dame offensive line really has struggled this season. They lost four starters from a season ago and have surrendered 15 sacks in three games. They’ve also caused a few traffic jams when failing to open running lanes. The Irish average 105.6 yards rushing per game. 

The Irish are stretching their depth chart and using a third tackle on the left side while trying to find a successful combination. 

Defense gives up big plays 

Notre Dame’s defense is stacked with talented players but while their stat sheet doesn't show the struggles — allowing 28 points and 4.2 yards per game on the ground — the Irish have given up some big plays in their three games this season.

All three of their opponents tallied large numbers on the ground in a single play, which has skewed their opponents’ yard-per-carry numbers. Eliminate the 89-yard run by Florida State and a 67-yard run by Toledo and they’re only allowing 2.7 yards per attempt. 

Running backs, wide receivers and tight ends 

The offense has been dictating most of the Irish’s success and it’s because of big names like running back Kyren Williams and tight end Michael Mayer. The wide receiver room also adds some depth. 

Williams has shown versatility in running and receiving. He leads the Irish in all-purpose yards with 400 while also handling punt return duties. Mayer leads Notre Dame with 17 receptions, but opponents have recognized that Coan tends to give the ball to him but has allowed teams such as Purdue to stifle his performance. 

The wide receiver trio of Avery Davis, Kevin Austin and Braden Lenzy have combined for 23 receptions for 396 yards and two touchdowns. Davis and Austin both average more than 18.5 yards per reception. 

Kyle Hamilton

Kyle Hamilton leads Notre Dame on defense and is arguably the best safety in college football, already garnering 2022 NFL draft interest. He leads the team with three interceptions and is second on the team in tackles. 

Read more about him and how the Badgers are preparing for him here: 

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