The Biggest Challenges for Brian Kelly in Week 8

min read
BetMGM Staff @BETMGM Oct 19, 2021, 4:52 PM

After winning on the road against Virginia Tech, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had a bye last week and will now prepare for a home game against USC.

Going into this game, BetMGM’s college football odds have Notre Dame as just six and a half point favorites.

Notre Dame sits at thirteenth in the country, but there are still questions about where head coach Brian Kelly and this Notre Dame team are going this year. These are some of the challenges that the Fighting Irish may face.

Nothing to Gain, Everything to Lose

Truthfully, this Notre Dame team does not have much to gain from this game. USC is unranked and is having a challenging season themselves, so the Fighting Irish will be expected to win this game. The Fighting Irish are currently 7-point favorites.

So, what this most likely means is that Notre Dame will not be able to jump anybody in the rankings by winning this game. But, on the other hand, if they lose this game, it should all but knock them out of the playoff discussion.

The biggest problem for Notre Dame is that Purdue is the only ranked team they have beaten so far, and the Boilermakers just entered the rankings after stunning Iowa. However, Notre Dame failed their biggest test already by losing at home to Cincinnati, and they do not have another ranked team on their schedule right now.

Three Quarterbacks Equals No Quarterback

Brian Kelly has rotated three quarterbacks in and out of the starter’s role throughout most of this season. The old expression goes that if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback, and Notre Dame has three that cannot seem to claim the starting spot.

In their last game against Virginia Tech, Notre Dame had two quarterbacks splitting reps. These were quarterbacks Jack Coan and Tyler Buchner. Coan went 9/12 with 108 passing yards and a touchdown pass, while Buchner went 6/14 with 113 passing yards, a touchdown pass, and two interceptions.

During their home loss to Cincinnati, Coan mainly split reps with a third quarterback in Drew Pyne. In this one, Pyne had the better day in a losing effort, going 9/22 with 143 passing yards and a touchdown pass, while Coan had 114 passing yards and an interception.

Coan seemed to be the main guy getting the most reps earlier in the season, but since his ankle injury against Wisconsin, Kelly has taken more reps away from Coan.

Weak Total Offense

With concerns at quarterback come questions about the Fighting Irish offense as a whole. Notre Dame ranks 88th in total offense out of 130 teams going into Week 8.

They average just 367.8 yards per game, 5.22 yards per play, and have 20 offensive touchdowns on the season. Out of teams competing to make the College Football Playoff, Iowa is the only team that ranks lower than them, at 118th.

Notre Dame has been fortunate to play some teams which also have this problem, considering Wisconsin is 87th on this list, and Virginia Tech is 120th.

USC is going to be a different animal, as they are currently ranked 29th in offense. The one time Notre Dame has played an offense close to that was Cincinnati, which ranks 32nd, and the Fighting Irish lost to them.

Will Brian Kelly and Notre Dame Win?

Brian Kelly and Notre Dame have to make sure that they do not fall victim to an upset the rest of the way. Do you think they can avoid that, or will they struggle against USC?

You can make your prediction by placing a bet here at BetMGM’s Indiana sports betting site. With an easy sign-up process, quick payouts, and an easy-to-use interface, BetMGM makes betting on football action more accessible than ever.

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BetMGM Staff

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Our BetMGM authors are sports experts, with a wealth of knowledge of the sports betting industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news across players, teams and coaches, providing betting previews and predictions, fun facts and more.

Our BetMGM authors are sports experts, with a wealth of knowledge of the sports betting industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news across players, teams and coaches, providing betting previews and predictions, fun facts and more.