Nevada vs. Notre Dame Preview

By  | 

Nevada (0-0) at No. 23 Notre Dame (0-0), 3:42 p.m. Eastern
Line: Notre Dame by 14.5.
Series Record: First meeting.

What's at Stake

After back-to-back seasons of 3-9 and 7-6, Notre Dame fans are out of patience. The Fighting Irish lost to Navy two seasons ago and an eight-loss Syracuse team last year. Losing for the first time to a Western Athletic Conference team, especially one that is 1-8 against BCS conference teams the past four years, wouldn't be good.

The Irish would like to set the tone for 2009 with a solid season-opening performance, something the Irish haven't done since a 42-21 win over No. 23 Pittsburgh in coach Charlie Weis' first game in 2005.

Nevada coach Chris Ault, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002, calls it the biggest season-opener in the school's history.

Key Matchup

Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen vs. Nevada's secondary.

Clausen is coming off a nearly flawless performance where he
completed 22-of-26 passes - with receivers dropping the other four
- for 401 yards and five touchdowns in the Hawaii Bowl against Hawai'i, another WAC team.

Nevada had the nation's worst pass defense last year, giving up an average of 312 yards a game. Weis says Clausen has improved during the offseason, which could mean a long day for the Wolf Pack secondary.

Players to watch

Nevada: QB Colin Kaepernick, the WAC's offensive player of the year last season, when he became only the fifth player in NCAA history to pass for more than 1,000 yards and run for more than 2,000 yards.

Notre Dame: LB Manti Te'o. The freshman is the school's most high-profile defensive recruit in years.