We don’t know whether Notre Dame’s undefeated record will remain that after it plays Cincinnati. What we do know is that it’s as difficult a game to predict as any the Irish have played over the first month of the season. Will Marcus Freeman’s unit be able to outperform the defense he helped to shape when he was with the Bearcats? Will whoever is starting at quarterback for the Irish have a difficult time with that defense?
Here’s what some college football experts, including those on the Wire sites, are predicting for this game:
Pete Fuitak, College Football News
“The winner of this game will be the darling of the College Football Playoff prediction crowd until something else happens.
For Notre Dame, a win will get thrown in the bucket with all the big-time programs still to play and coming off the terrific win over Wisconsin in Soldier Field.
For Cincinnati, this is it. After this it’s all American Athletic Conference programs the rest of the way – style points will count here, assuming it’s a win.
The Bearcats will come out roaring. They’ll play like a rested team that’s been waiting for this chance to make a giant playoff statement, but the Irish will settle in.
Neither side will do much for the running game, but the Notre Dame defense will start to take over as the game goes on, it’ll force a key turnover – not the bazillion it got against Wisconsin, but a big one – and it’ll be just enough to be the spark to take the momentum.
Once again, it won’t be a perfect performance, but 5-0 will be 5-0.”
Gill Alexander, VSIN: Notre Dame
Eric Bolin, RazorbacksWire.com: Notre Dame
Patrick Conn, LSUTigersWire.com Notre Dame
Adam Dubbin, GatorsWire.com Notre Dame
Jeff Feyerer, CFN: Notre Dame
Pete Fiutak, CFN: Cincinnati
Dan Harralson, VolsWire.com: Notre Dame
Phil Harrison, BuckeyesWire.com: Notre Dame
Jeremy Mauss, MWwire.com: Notre Dame
Kevin McGuire, NittanyLionsWire.com: Notre Dame
Zac Neel, DucksWire.com: Notre Dame
Big Game Ben Niewoehner, CFN Notre Dame
Johnny Rosenstein, SportsBookWire.com: Notre Dame
Nick Shepkowski, FightingIrishWire.com: Notre Dame
Scott Steehn, WinnersandWhiners.com:
Joe Vitale, UGAWire.com: Notre Dame
John Williams, SoonersWire.com:
Clucko the Chicken, CFN: Notre Dame
Andy Bitter: Cincinnati
Matt Brown: Notre Dame
Gene Clemons: Cincinnati
Bruce Feldman: Cincinnati
Mitch Light: Notre Dame
Stewart Mandel: Cincinnati
Austin Meek: Cincinnati
David Ubben: Cincinnati
Bill Bender, Sporting News
“The Bearcats have an opportunity to pick up a huge road win, and they will challenge the Irish with the combination of Desmond Ridder and Jerome Ford. The Irish, however, erupted in the fourth quarter against Wisconsin and will play up as an underdog again.”
J. Brady McCollough, Los Angeles Times
“The Fighting Irish have had a wild start to the season, cashing in their trademark luck to escape Florida State and Toledo and then beating two Big Ten opponents. They will need to play their best game of the season to beat Cincinnati, which has a chance Saturday to make a huge statement that it belongs in the playoff conversation. The Bearcats will get a steady performance from dual-threat quarterback Desmond Ridder to keep the game tight and settle into South Bend. But Notre Dame under Brian Kelly just has a way of winning these toss-up games.”
Brad Crawford and Chris Hummer, 247Sports
“I’m sort of surprised Cincinnati is favored on the road. But I’m still happy to take Cincinnati as a road favorite. The Irish are a deceiving 4-0. They have real problems moving the football – the offensive line isn’t close to what it has been in year’s past – and Cincinnati’s defense is excellent ranked 10th nationally in yards allowed per play. The Bearcats win and enter the playoff conversation. … Cincinnati 27, Notre Dame 21.”
“I’m picking too many favorites this week and it’s going to bite me, but I’ll go with the Bearcats here in the matchup of top 10 unbeatens. Cincinnati needs this one badly to be in Playoff contention at season’s end and I think Luke Fickell’s group may take it personally after watching Marcus Freeman jump ship for Notre Dame. Desmond Ridder’s star shines brightly in South Bend. … Cincinnati 31, Notre Dame 28.”
Notre Dame-Cincinnati Links from Fighting Irish Wire