Week 5 Game Matchup: Washington Huskies VS. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

By Dave Consolazio and Sam Saig, September 30, 2009 7:10 am

Washington Huskies (2-2) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-1)
Saturday, October 3, 12:30 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: Notre Dame -13.0

Sam’s Take (22 – 10):

The Huskies have not had any success in this series over the years (0-7), but they do have one thing going for them in 2009. Steve Sarkisian and Nick Holt are very familiar with Notre Dame, and more importantly, they understand how to beat them.

This has the makings of a very entertaining match-up, especially at the quarterback position. Jake Locker struggled last week, but we all know what he is capable of. The Irish will counter with their own superstar in Jimmy Clausen. Clausen is far and away the best pure-passer that UW has faced this season, so the UW secondary will have its hands full. Clausen has been hampered a bit by turf toe, but he is a dangerous talent even with reduced mobility.

I expect to see big plays from both sides, but I think the Irish will have more of them. Clausen has a lot of weapons to work with (Tate, Allen, Hughes) and I still believe the Huskies are vulnerable in the secondary.

Jake Locker must make better decisions with the ball this week, because Washington CANNOT afford to turn the ball over like they did against Stanford. I would like to see RB Chris Polk assert himself in this one, as he maybe the key to keeping the Irish defense off guard (and the UW attack balanced).

As good as Sarkisian and Holt are when it comes to preparation, I expect Charlie Weis’s Irish to have the answers in South Bend.

Prediction: Notre Dame 35 – Washington 28

Washington Player to Keep an Eye On: TE Kavario Middleton - He was just plain bad against Stanford, which surprised me. Middleton is an exceptional talent and an important part of the passing game, so he needs to play well Saturday.

Notre Dame Player to Keep an Eye On: WR Golden Tate - Tate is Clausen’s favorite target and a true playmaker who can hurt the Huskies in a number of ways.

Dave’s Take (25 – 7):

I was worried that the defensive effort in the USC game might be an anomaly for the Huskies, and after Stanford’s huge day offensively, I am starting to believe that might be the case.

While it was a rough day offensively for the Huskies last week, I believe they have the offensive firepower to shoot out with a lot of teams, and Notre Dame might be one of them. Jake Locker feels about due for another big game, too.

But I’ve got to go with the Fighting Irish here; they are a little bit further along in their development than the Huskies are. The big performance against LSU and the upset win over USC has sent expectations soaring this season, but it is important to remember that this team still has a long way to go.

I’m sure Nick Holt and Steve Sarkisian can come up with a defensive scheme that will give the Huskies a chance Saturday, but I don’t think they have the personnel to execute yet. For the Huskies to have a chance, they’ll need the game to devolve into a shootout, and have the ball in Jake Locker’s hands late. But I’m not seeing it.

Prediction: Notre Dame 34 – Washington 20

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