DeShone Kizer

Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer should have a big day against Duke. 

AP has a nice little feature called Matchup Predictor. Each team in a given game is given a percentage chance of winning.

For Saturday's game in South Bend against Duke, the Irish have an 85.3 percent chance beating the Blue Devils. 

To channel my inner Keith Morrison from Dateline, "But oh that pesky 14.7 percent."

Duke is 1-2 with loses against Wake Forest and a Northwestern squad coming off a loss to FCS powerhouse Illinois State. 

Duke struggled to score in two losses, posting 14 and 13 points respectively. Thus, the Blue Devils have no business coming into Notre Dame Stadium and beating the Irish. 

But if they have any shot of doing so it'll depend on the arm of freshman quarterback Daniel Jones. 

Jones has actually thrown for more yards in three games (800) than Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer (715). 

The main difference is Jones has two passing TDs and two interceptions while Kizer has nine TD tosses to just two interceptions. 

Kizer is more of a running threat than Jones is as well. 

D as in deficient

The talk this week has been about Notre Dame's putrid defense. After Texas put 50 points on the board in Week 1, Michigan State scored 36. 

The Irish are pretty much in the bottom third of every defensive statistical category. 

While this Duke game won't serve as a referendum on whether Notre Dame has turned it around on defense, it could go a long way in giving a young squad some semblance of confidence. 

Important stretch

Notre Dame is at the start of a very winnable three-game stretch. After Duke, the Irish host Syracuse and then play the second of only three true road games at North Carolina State. 

If the Irish take care of business they'll be 4-2 before a home game against No. 7 Stanford followed by a date with No. 15 Miami in South Bend. 

Notre Dame is out of the playoff picture. But if they're peaking at the right time this season, they could play spoiler for another team. 

Youth movement

With a lack of depth and talent in the junior and senior classes, this week's game is a perfect chance for Notre Dame to let some freshmen get extended playing time. 

Daelin Hayes needs to be on the field as much as possible. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound manchild from Ann Arbor deflected a pass that led to an interception against Michigan State last week.

He's young and raw but his athleticism is unmatched on the Irish defense and he needs as many reps as possible. 

He's not nearly as advanced as Jaylon Smith was when Smith was a freshman, but Hayes' upside is comparable. 


Assistant Night Editor