FACTS & STATS: Site: Kibbie Dome (16,000) — Moscow, Idaho.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Troy 2-3, Idaho 1-3. Away Record: Troy
0-5, Idaho 0-4. Neutral Record: Troy 0-0, Idaho 0-0. Conference Record: Troy
1-4, Idaho 1-5. Series Record: Troy leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: In their final home game of the season, the Idaho Vandals go toe-
to-toe with the Troy Trojans in a Sun Belt Conference clash at the Kibbie
There isn’t much at stake in this contest, aside from pride. Troy may have
rolled to a 45-21 win over Georgia State last weekend, but the win was just
the second in 10 tries this season for the program. With long-time coach Larry
Blakeney set to retire at the end of the season, the Trojans only have two
games left, as they cannot hope to win the Sun Belt or reach a bowl game.
Idaho is in a similarly futile position as the season draws to a close. The
Vandals were handed a 35-21 loss by San Diego State last weekend, marking
their second straight setback and eighth overall. They are even worse than the
Trojans in league play (1-5), and will visit FBS newcomer Appalachian State on
Nov. 29 in their final game of the campaign.
While Troy has been a staple in the Sun Belt for years, Idaho is in its first
season in the conference. That hasn’t made for many previous matchups between
these two. In fact, the only time they have squared off was back in 2004 when
Troy laid a 47-7 beating on the Vandals.
Another rout of that nature is unlikely, if only because Troy isn’t nearly
potent enough on offense. The Trojans are next-to-last in the Sun Belt in
total offense (343.4 ypg) and scoring (20.5 ppg). They have scored more than
20 points only three times this season.
Brandon Silvers has endured a rough patch lately, as he has thrown for less
than 120 yards in each of the last three games, after having at least 150 in
the first seven. He finished with 111 yards on 17-of-21 passing against
Georgia State, while boosting his touchdown total to six with a single scoring
strike in the matchup. Silvers is at least careful with the ball, having
tossed only three interceptions while completing 67.5 percent of his attempts,
but he has only 1,329 yards to show for it.
Cam Worthy has proven to be the top target for Silvers, although with just 354
yards and three touchdowns on 35 receptions, he is far from the top of the
leader board in the Sun Belt. Bryan Holmes (26 receptions, 322 yards, two TDs)
is the only other player with more than 200 receiving yards, while Brandon
Burks has turned 20 receptions into 163 yards and a score.
However, Burkinally close out their non-conference schedule with
this bout. Northwestern hasn’t had much success both in and out of the Big Ten
this season at a mere 3-6 overall (2-4 Big Ten) and enters this game with a
four-game losing streak in tow, including last weekend’s tough 10-9 loss to
Fitzgerald is only concerned with one game at a time going forward.
“We don’t need to worry about winning out, we need to worry about winning next
Notre Dame has dominated this series, holding a 37-8-2 advantage all-time.
However, these two teams haven’t met since 1995, a 17-15 Northwestern win in
There haven’t been a great deal of highlights on offense for Northwestern this
season, as the team comes in averaging a mere 18.0 ppg, good for just 119th in
the nation. Keeping senior quarterback Trevor Siemian upright has also been
problematic, with NU allowing a whopping 29 sacks thus far.
To his credit has still completed 57.5 percent of his passes, for 1,837 yards,
but he does have more interceptions (8) than TD passes (5). Kyle Prater (37
rec, 372 yds) and Dan Vitale (32 rec, 323 yds) have been the most reliable
targets down the field, but no one on the roster has more than one TD
NU’s best offensive weapon is true freshman tailback Justin Jackson, who has
three 100-yard games to his credit. Jackson has amassed 761 yards on the year,
with five TDs on a healthy 4.3 yards per carry.
The Northwestern defense has done its job in keeping the team in a lot of
games. The Wildcats are allowing just 22.3 ppg, including games in which the
team held Penn State to six points, Wisconsin to 14 points and Michigan to
Senior linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo has been extremely active with a team-best
80 tackles. Senior safety Traveon Henry is a distant second with 6
1 total stops. Redshirt freshman safety Godwin Igwebuike (37 tackles) has
shown flashes of strong play, leading the team with three interceptions.
Coach Kelly is wary of NU’s solid defense.
“They have a sound scheme,” said Kelly. “They do a very good job of, you know,
just being in good position. They’re never really out of position. I think
they’re, again, well coached, fundamentally sound, and they do a really good
job of attacking the football. They play the ball very well. Their guys on the
back end, their corners and safeties have very good ball skills, so they play
the ball very well in the air.”
Turning the ball over five times against Arizona State effectively did in the
Irish, especially since two of those turnovers were interceptions returned for
touchdowns. It certainly wasn’t the kind of outing that Notre Dame quarterback
Everett Golson anticipated. Still, the Irish had their chances, overcoming a
31-point deficit to pull to within three points, before surrendering in the
For Golson, he passed for 446 yards and two touchdowns, but the turnovers
(four INTs, 1 fumble) were costly. On the season, Golson has been responsible
for 17 turnovers, ending any Heisman hype following a strong start to the
year. He is completing a solid 61.7 percent of his passes, for 2,757 yards,
with 24 TDs against 11 interceptions.
Golson is not the only weapon on offense for the Irish, who average 461-4
yards per game. The aerial attack generates over 300 yards per game, with
wideout Will Fuller emerging as the team’s primary playmaker downfield, with
52 receptions, for 694 yards and 10 TDs.
The ground game lacks a workhorse back, but Tarean Folston (562 yards, 3 TDs)
The Notre Dame defense was strong in the early stages of the season, but has
been much more generous of late. On the year, the Irish are now allowing 25.3
ppg and 365.0 yards per game, with the 55 points relinquished to ASU a season
The unit is led by strong linebacker play. Sophomore Jaylon Smith is the
team’s top defender, with 67 total tackles, 6.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks. Former
walk-on Joe Schmidt (65 tackles, 2 INT, 2 FF) had developed into a valuable
starter in the linebacking corps as well, but an ankle injury will sideline
him the remainder of the season.
This is really the last game in which Notre Dame will be heavily favored. The
Irish shouldn’t have much trouble getting up on Northwestern and staying
there, as Golson and company should straighten out their turnover problems in
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Notre Dame 33, Northwestern 17