No. 8 Notre Dame makes its South Bend, Indiana, debut Saturday for its 2021 home-opener against one of the top programs in the MAC, the Toledo Rockets. The Fighting Irish will be playing on short rest after surviving a come-from-behind overtime scare against Florida State in a thriller on Sunday night. The Irish blew a 38-20 lead in that game before winning on a field goal in overtime to escape with the win.

Now they return home to play in front of a friendlier crowd and they’ll be making a bit of history in the process. Sure, Toledo isn’t the biggest name left on Notre Dame’s schedule this season, but it is a new opponent for the Irish. That’s right; this will be the first meeting between the programs and only the sixth time the Irish have played a MAC opponent since 2010. It won’t come as a surprise to learn that Notre Dame has won each of its first five meetings against MAC opponents.

The Irish enter the game having won 25 of their last 26 games against programs from the Group of Five or independents. The only loss in that stretch came at home in a 28-27 loss to Navy during the 2016 season.

Notre Dame vs Toledo: Need to know

Notre Dame will establish the run: Notre Dame’s rushing attack was supposed to be the focal point of its offense entering the season thanks to a stellar group of running backs. That was not the case in the opener against Florida State, as the Seminoles defense stifled Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree. The Irish finished with only 65 yards rushing and averaged a paltry 1.9 yards per carry. You can count on them to make a point against a Rockets defense that has been one of the better groups in the MAC, but should be overmatched by the Irish offensive line.

Jack Coan brings the deep ball: Coan’s ability to throw the ball vertically might have surprised Notre Dame fans. Coan transferred to Notre Dame from Wisconsin, where he wasn’t often asked to take many deep shots. That never meant Coan didn’t have the capability. Now that he’s in an offense with deep threats like Kevin Austin and Braden Lenzy on the outside, as well as tight end Michael Mayer over the middle, you should expect to see more of it. It’ll be fun to see how the Irish offense evolves with Coan at QB this year compared to how it looked with Ian Book the last few seasons.

Don’t sleep on Toledo: A lot of people consider Iowa State’s Matt Campbell to be one of the best coaches in the country, but do you know where he coached before? He was leading Toledo to a 24-8 record in the MAC and two division titles over four seasons. Successor Jason Candle has done an excellent job of maintaining that success, winning the MAC in 2017. This year, the Rockets are expected to be one of the best teams in the league again. Even if they’re still heavy underdogs on the road against Notre Dame, they’re capable of making big plays and keeping this one close.

How to watch Notre Dame vs Toledo live

Date: Saturday, September 11 | Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Notre Dame Stadium — South Bend, Indiana
Live stream: Peacock

Notre Dame vs Toledo prediction, picks

Featured Game | Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Toledo Rockets

Honestly, I don’t see a ton of value on this spread. Basically, if it’s under 17 points, I prefer Notre Dame. If it’s 17 or more, I think Toledo is the better option. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Irish are the better team, but they’re on a short week and have a tough stretch of games to get through in the weeks to come. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Irish resting some players if they have the chance to in the second half. Prediction: Notre Dame (-16.5)

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 2, and which favorites will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,500 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 2, and which favorites will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,500 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.





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