NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Seventh-ranked Notre Dame was not entirely pleased with its performance during a season-opening victory and looks for a sharper effort after a little extra time off when New Mexico pays a visit Saturday afternoon for the teams' first-ever meeting. The Fighting Irish pulled away in the second half for a 35-17 triumph at Louisville on Sept. 2 before enjoying an early bye week and turning their attention toward earning a 14th straight regular-season win.
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Notre Dame -35
"It was a sloppy win, I think, for us," Notre Dame's junior safety Alohi Gilman, who led the team with 10 tackles against Louisville, told reporters. "But as time goes on, we'll continue to get better. We're just going to keep fighting. We're an unfinished product." Irish coach Brian Kelly told the media that quarterback Ian Book, among others, has to be better after the senior was sacked three times and completed 14-of-23 passes for 193 yards along with a touchdown versus the Cardinals. New Mexico won its season opener 39-31 against Sam Houston State on Aug. 31 before head coach Bob Davie suffered what was deemed a "serious medical incident" and the former Notre Dame coach (1997-2001) won't be back in South Bend, Ind. for a reunion as offensive line coach Saga Tuitele gets the nod to run the team Saturday. "My doctors have said that with no setbacks I can expect a full recovery with no limitations," the 64-year-old Davie said in a statement. "I have great confidence in our staff, and this gives us our best chance for success and limits the distractions."
NEW MEXICO (1-0)
Junior quarterback Brandt Hughes went 12-of-29 for 218 yards before suffering a shoulder injury in the opener and is questionable for Saturday with senior Sheriron Jones (6-of-11, 122 yards against Sam Houston State) the next man up. Senior running back Ahmari Davis led the way in the opener for the Lobos with 107 yards on 16 carries along with two touchdowns on the ground and a pair of receptions for another 58 yards. New Mexico, which finished 3-9 last season, must be better defensively after allowing 558 yards against Sam Houston State and senior safety Johnny Hernandez (11 tackles) along with sophomore linebacker Dylan Horton (eight tackles, one sack) lead that unit.
NOTRE DAME (1-0)
Sophomore Jafar Armstrong, who was slated to get plenty of touches this season, will miss time with an abdominal tear and junior Tony Jones Jr. stepped up with 110 yards rushing along with a touchdown against Louisville while sophomore Jahmir Smith ran for two scores. Senior receiver Chase Claypool led the way with five catches for 94 yards in the opener for the Irish and junior tight end Cole Kmet, who missed the Louisville game with a broken collarbone, has been practicing in a limited role and is considered day-to-day. Highly-regarded senior defensive lineman Julian Okwara managed just two tackles in the season opener, but recorded a sack to increase his career total to 11.5.
1. The Irish have won 11 straight games at home, the third-longest streak since Notre Dame Stadium opened in 1930.
2. Nine different Lobos had at least one catch in the opener, led by senior WR Anu Somoye (three receptions, 62 yards).
3. Notre Dame running backs have gone 571 carries without a fumble, which is the longest active streak among FBS teams.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame 48, New Mexico 13