- Matt Fortuna, College Football
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Can the Irish avoid falling to .500?
When Arizona State has the ball: The Sun Devils have the nation's No. 7 passing attack. More impressively, they have the nation's touchdown leader coming out of the backfield in Marion Grice, who has reached the end zone 12 times. The 6-foot, 207-pound senior is shifty, able to take a handoff or a short pass from Taylor Kelly and turn it into a big gain. Kelly and the offense will look to strike fast, strike hard and strike quickly against the Irish defense, and they will likely attack the perimeter as well and minimize the potential impact of Notre Dame's defensive front.
When Notre Dame has the ball: Don't overlook the silver lining from the Oklahoma loss, which was that Notre Dame appeared to have finally established a ground game. George Atkinson III rushed for a career-best 148 yards, the Irish tallied a team-best 220 rushing yards and they look to finally have jelled in the other aspect of offensive football. Running the ball will be crucial against an ASU defense surrendering 192.3 rushing yards per game. It will keep the ball out of the Sun Devils' hands, give Notre Dame's defense a break and open things up in the passing attack for Tommy Rees & Co. Of course, protecting the football and running better routes are every bit as important to do this time around, too.
Intangible: The venue, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will technically be Notre Dame's home. Both teams are breaking out fancy uniforms. Brian Kelly showed his players highlights this week from last year's Purdue, BYU and Pitt games to show them the little differences between wins and losses the last two years. Do the ordinary things better, the Irish stressed, and wins will follow.
Prediction: ASU 34, Notre Dame 24. The Sun Devils remain one step quicker than an Irish team that has shown little indication through five games that it can keep up in a shootout.
Can the Irish avoid falling to .500?When Arizona State has the ball: The Sun Devils have the nation's No. 7 passing attack. More impressively, they have the nation's touchdown leader coming out of the backfield in Marion Grice, who has reached the end zone 12 times.