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Notre Dame Loses Key Starter Before Game vs. Wisconsin

Notre Dame cheerleader waves a flag at the College Football Playoff semifinal.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 29: A Notre Dame Fighting Irish cheerleader waves a flag during the College Football Playoff Semifinal Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic against the Clemson Tigers at AT&T Stadium on December 29, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Coming into this weekend, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish knew the Wisconsin Badgers would present a tough challenge. To make matters worse, they'll be without at least one key contributor on defense.

On Saturday morning, Notre Dame announced that defensive lineman Kurt Hinish will not play against Wisconsin.

"The following players who were listed on this week's depth chart [and special teams contributors] are unavailable for today's game vs. Wisconsin: DL Kurt Hinish," the Fighting Irish said in a statement.

Hinish, a fifth-year senior nose tackle, received a game ball for last week's performance against the Purdue Boilermakers. His absence this afternoon will certainly affect the Fighting Irish's ability to disrupt the Badgers' offense.

In three games this season, Hinish has five total tackles and a sack. He's undoubtedly one of Brian Kelly's best run-stuffers.

Howard Cross and Jacob Lacey will be asked to step up this afternoon against Wisconsin. It'll be interesting to see if they can handle an increased workload against a Power Five opponent.

The Badgers are known for taking a ground-and-pound approach on offense, so the Fighting Irish will need to be stout in the trenches.

Kickoff for the Notre Dame-Wisconsin game is at 12 p.m. ET on FOX.