Tale of the tape: Who has the edge when UNLV football visits Notre Dame Stadium Saturday

Mike Berardino
South Bend Tribune

WHEN NOTRE DAME HAS THE BALL

Notre Dame has sagged to a tie for 99th in scoring offense at 23.7 points per game. … Irish running back Audric Estime has lost a fumble in two of his past three games. … QB Drew Pyne has completed just five of 12 pass attempts of 20 yards or longer, but all five have gone for touchdowns. His least-efficient range is on passes that travel 10-19 yards in the air. … UNLV allowed 406 rushing yards to Air Force last week but still ranks 51st in run defense efficiency, according to Pro Football Focus. … Senior defensive end Adam Plant Jr., a TCU transfer, could return after missing the Air Force game with an undisclosed injury. Plant is tied for the team lead with three sacks. … The Rebels have been outscored by a combined 82-14 the past two games.

Edge: Notre Dame

More:Jim Tressel's message to Marcus Freeman: 'Hey, you'll be fine'

WHEN UNLV HAS THE BALL

Notre Dame is last among 131 FBS teams with just two takeaways: Justin Ademilola’s unforced fumble recovery of North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye in Game 4 and TaRiq Bracy’s room-service interception in Las Vegas against BYU in Game 5. … UNLV sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield is in concussion protocol and is questionable for this game. … Bracy (hamstring) returned to practice after missing the Stanford game, but backup cornerback Jaden Mickey (abductor muscle) and defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola (rib contusion) were day-to-day. … UNLV is tied for 31st in turnover margin at plus-4. Notre Dame is tied for 120th at minus-6. … UNLV’s leading rusher Aidan Robbins, a Louisville transfer averaging 4.7 yards per carry, is questionable with a knee injury suffered last Saturday.

Edge: Notre Dame  

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) fumbles the ball and Notre Dame defensive lineman Justin Ademilola (9), right, recovers it during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Sophomore linebacker Prince Kollie recorded his first blocked punt last week against Stanford. It was the second blocked kick of any kind for the Irish under special-teams coordinator Brian Mason, whose Cincinnati Bearcats units tied for the FBS lead in 2021 with six combined blocked punts/kicks. … Sixth-year UNLV kicker Daniel Gutierrez has yet to miss this year in six field goal and 25 point-after attempts. His career-long is 53 yards, and he is 37-for-44 in college. … According to Pro Football Focus, Notre Dame is 35th in special-teams efficiency, 11 spots ahead of UNLV.

Stanford punter Ryan Sanborn (27)j gets his punt blocked during the Notre Dame vs. Stanford NCAA football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notes:Brainstorming Irish-appropriate versions of UNLV's Turnover Slot Machine

COACHING

After losing a Sept. 10 home game to Marshall in the first-ever meeting between those schools, Marcus Freeman will try to avoid a similar fate as a 24-point favorite against UNLV. Freeman wants the Irish to start faster after being outscored 27-6 in the first quarter through six games this year. Rebels coach Marcus Arroyo, who tutored future Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert during his three-year run as Oregon’s offensive coordinator (2017-19), lost his first 14 games as UNLV coach but has gone 6-5 since. A former San Jose State quarterback, Arroyo has worked for the NFL’s Falcons and Buccaneers, including a stint in 2014 as Tampa Bay’s interim offensive coordinator when mentor Jeff Tedford took a medical leave following heart surgery. Arroyo, 42, is one of five active Latino head coaches at the FBS level and the only other “Marcus” leading a program.

Edge: Notre Dame

PREDICTIONS

Tom Noie Notre Dame 41, UNLV 13: The Irish believe they're better than what they showed last time out. It's time we see it — and see it for four quarters.

Mike Berardino — Notre Dame 52, UNLV 10: This game is available only on Peacock for a reason.

Michael Wanbaugh — Notre Dame 41, UNLV 7: The Irish haven't lost three in row at home since 2016. Won't happen this year with Clemson looming in a couple weeks.

Justin Frommer — Notre Dame 37, UNLV 13. Is any game a surefire win for Notre Dame anymore? This one needs to be. Irish get back on track by "runnin' " over the Rebels.

UNLV (4-3) vs. Notre Dame (3-3) 

  • When: Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EST 
  • Where: Notre Dame Stadium (77,660) 
  • TV/Radio: Peacock streaming, WSBT Radio (960 AM), WNSN (101.5 FM) 
  • Line: Notre Dame opens as a 24-point favorite  
  • Series: First meeting