No. 7 Notre Dame rested, ready for New Mexico

Field Level Media

September 10, 2019 at 9:31 pm.

No. 7 Notre Dame will kick off its home schedule when it hosts New Mexico on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Ind.

That figures to be good news for the Fighting Irish (1-0), who had last week off after a season-opening victory on the road against Louisville. Notre Dame went undefeated at home last season and has won its last 11 games on campus.

“It’s always great playing at home, sleeping in your own bed, (and) we have got a great routine,” Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly told reporters this week. “The home-field advantage is real with our fans. It has gotten better and better in my time here in terms of just the support that we have. …

“At the end of the day, you have to play exciting football and you’ve got to play good football to get everybody enthusiastic. So it is our job to put a great product on the field.”

Notre Dame will look to do that against the Lobos (1-0), who are coming off a 39-31 win over Sam Houston State in its opener. New Mexico relied on two touchdowns from Ahmari Davis and four field goals from Andrew Shelly to hold on for the victory.

After the game, New Mexico coach Bob Davie was taken by ambulance to a hospital because of what was described as a “serious medical incident.” Davie is recovering but will not make the trip to Notre Dame, where he once coached.

“I’d categorize it as a very serious situation,” Davie said in comments published by the Chicago Tribune. “The good news is there seems to be no permanent damage of any type. It looks like I’ll be able to make a full recovery.”

Running game coordinator Saga Tuitele will coach the team in Davie’s absence.

The Fighting Irish are a heavy favorite after drubbing Louisville by 18 points. Quarterback Ian Book passed for one touchdown and rushed for another, while running back Tony Jones Jr. led a dominant ground attack with 15 carries for 110 yards and a score.

Another talented running back, Jafar Armstrong, who is expected to be out several weeks after tearing an abdominal muscle in the opener.

“I’m not going to put an exact timetable on it, but he’s a very good player that gives us great versatility,” Kelly said to reporters. “We’re very confident in the backs that we have that we can continue to have that same versatility.”

That includes Avery Davis, who recently switched from cornerback to running back to provide extra depth in the backfield.

Notre Dame’s defense could provide a difficult challenge for New Mexico. The Fighting Irish have registered at least one sack in 15 consecutive games, and senior pass rusher Julian Okwara enters the contest with 11.5 career sacks.

New Mexico is 6-55 all-time against ranked teams, according to the school. That includes a 4-25 mark at home, a 2-29 record on the road and an 0-1 mark on a neutral field. The school’s last victory over a ranked opponent took place Oct. 25, 2003, when the Lobos knocked off No. 23 Utah.

This is the first meeting between the programs.