Central Michigan (1-1) at No. 9 Notre Dame (3-0), Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET (Peacock)
Line: Notre Dame by 34 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
No. 9 Notre Dame is 9-0 all-time against Mid-American Conference foes and making it a perfect 10 could come on a historic weekend. The Fighting Irish have posted their highest scoring total through three games (143 points) since 1943. And opening the season with a fourth straight 40-point game would be the first time it's happened since 1900 — when the Irish played two high school opponents. Plus, they would remain undefeated heading into next week's showdown against No. 6 Ohio State. For Central Michigan, it would be an unexpected 2-1 start — and arguably the biggest win in school history. The Chippewas last win against a ranked team: 30-27 over No. 22 Oklahoma State in 2016.
Notre Dame's running game vs. Central Michigan's run defense. While Irish QB Sam Hartman continues carving up defenses, it's the ground game that's benefitting. Notre Dame is averaging 5.71 yards per carry. Central Michigan’s best chance would be slowing down Notre Dame's stable of backs and making the Irish one-dimensional. The Chippewas could do it. They're allowing just 86 yards rushing per game and just 4.1 yards per carry in a season-opening loss at Michigan State.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Central Michigan: QB Bert Emanuel Jr. The reigning MAC West Division offensive player of the week captured the award after throwing for 193 yards and two touchdowns in last week's victory over New Hampshire. Emanuel also ran for 101 yards and two additional scores against New Hampshire, making him a potentially a dangerous dual threat against the Irish..
Notre Dame: RB Audric Estimé. Now in his third season in South Bend, Estimé has become the leader of Notre Dame's three-man backfield rotation. He's the bulldozer of this pack and leads the nation in yards rushing (345) though he's had one extra game to pad that cushion. And if the Chippewas are expected to have any chance, they'll need to hold Estimé below his 115 yards per game average.
FACTS & FIGURES
Hartman is the first Notre Dame quarterback to throw 10 TD passes in the first three games of the season. ... Central Michigan’s last win over a Power Five opponent came in the 2021 Sun Bowl against Washington State. … The only other win over a ranked team in Chippewas history came in 1991 when it beat No. 18 Michigan State 20-3. ... Notre Dame has scored at least 42 points in each of its first three contests.
___ AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll