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Notre Dame Football

Plenty of Interesting Matchups in 2020 for Notre Dame

July 6, 2020

Notre Dame has one of the most interesting schedules in the country heading into 2020. There are schools Fighting Irish fans have become familiar with over the years, but there are also a few schools that have been circled for years. 

The new faces on the schedule lead to some exciting matchups and here's a few Notre Dame fans should keep their eye on outside of the Clemson and Wisconsin games.

Notre Dame's Front Seven vs. Arkansas Run Game 

Sam Pittman showed he is one of the top offensive line coaches in the country while he was at Georgia and running the football is priority No. 1. Now, the hiring of offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is interesting because he's known for tempo.

The tougher challenge will be that the new staff at Arkansas didn't get even one spring practice in the books before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. 

The Razorbacks have an NFL caliber running back in Rakeem Boyd. The junior rushed for 734 yards in 2018 and followed it up with 1,133 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. Boyd, who was on Netflix's Last Chance U, averaged 6.2 yards per carry last year. 

Notre Dame struggled early against the run last year as 249 rushing yards to Louisville in the season opener and 212 rushing yards to New Mexico in week two.  If the Irish aren't ready to get physical, Boyd has the talent to have a big day and Pittman will have no problem giving it to him. 

Notre Dame QB Ian Book vs. Stanford CB Paulson Adebo 

Adebo, a former Notre Dame commit, had a breakout sophomore year in 2018 and many felt 2019 would be his last year in college. 

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder did miss three games last season, but he was far from the player he was in 2018 despite equaling his output in interceptions with four. 

Adebo set a Stanford record with 24 passes defended in 2018 and will look to get back to that form. 

This is a big matchup for Ian Book as Adebo has typically followed the best receiver instead of playing one side of the field. Book will have to test Adebo at some point and the Stanford corner has been known to get beat deep. 

Notre Dame's Defense vs. Louisville's Crazy Offense 

Scott Satterfield gave Notre Dame all they wanted for three quarters last fall. Now, Notre Dame had an idea of what the new head coach would do in his first game, but they also went somewhat blind into the game. 

Clark Lea knows what to expect this year and I wouldn't expect the Cardinals to rush for 247 yards, but they are plenty talented to do that again. 

Louisville has a three-headed monster as redshirt sophomore Javian Hawkins ran for 1,525 yards and nine scores in 2019. Junior running back Hassan Hall is also back after running for 501 yards and five scores. The third piece to the puzzle is sophomore quarterback Micale Cunningham who ran for 482 yards and six scores, while passing for 2,065 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

The Cardinals will also be coming to South Bend for senior day between road games at Georgia Tech and USC.

Tommy Rees vs. Todd Orlando 

The focus will be about USC quarterback Kedon Slovis vs. Notre Dame's secondary, but if the Trojans can't stop the Irish offense, I don't foresee things going well for the home team. 

Orlando was a hot name in 2016 when he left Houston to join Tom Herman at Texas. Things didn't go as expected and Herman fired him last year. 

It was a Brian VanGorderish year for Orlando as the Longhorns finished No. 97 in total defense and No. 65 in scoring defense, which included giving up 30 points or more six times. Yes, that includes giving up 48 points to Kansas. 

Orlando does come with a lot of different schemes and looks, so it will test the mental capacity of the offense, but USC's defense will have youth, so it will be interesting to see how they pick the defense up throughout the year.

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