Notre Dame’s 2014 schedule is absolutely brutal. While Rice may not be as good as some of the other teams that the Fighting Irish will play this year, the defending Conference USA champions should provide a nice test early in the season for the Golden Domers.
It’s been a tumultuous offseason for Notre Dame, which is ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25 and USA Today preseason polls. While the team welcomes back quarterback Everett Golson, this will be the team’s first game since an academic scandal rocked the university. Will that impact the Fighting Irish on the field? We’ll find out soon enough.
Date: Saturday, August 30, 2014
Time: 3:30 PM EST
TV Channel: NBC
Location: Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend, IN)
Betting Line: Notre Dame -21 via 5Dimes
Prediction: The bad news for Rice is that, while the team did have a stellar 2013 season, it needs to replace a fair amount of talent in 2014, namely a new starting quarterback and a new starting running back. Still, the Owls are just good enough that they can give Notre Dame some trouble.
For the Fighting Irish, this game isn’t a cakewalk. The team will get used to life without a handful of players who are no longer with the team, including the four who were suspended earlier this month. It’ll also be interesting to see Golson back after missing all of last year. Still, this team is incredibly talented and well-coached, so anything other than a win would be a minor shock.
There’s a pretty big talent gap between Notre Dame and Rice, and the game is in South Bend, so we expect Notre Dame to get the win. However, while we’re taking the Fighting Irish, Rice is still a solid team, and Notre Dame may come out a bit slow as Golson tries to get a feel for the game after missing all of last year, so we expect them to cover the spread.