Notre Dame prepares USC rivalry after defeat

SOUTH BEND, Ind – Irish lost to Louisville on the road and now face 2022 Heisman winner (QB) Caleb Williams at home in week eight.

After seven straight games, three consecutive top 25 matchups in prime-time slots (7:30 p.m.), are the Irish fatigued mentally, physically, and/or emotionally?

If they are, head coach Marcus Freeman isn’t making it an excuse.

“What I don't want to do LeVon is use being tired as an excuse, right? And I don't want our players to use it as an excuse. We're not tired. You got played Saturday night, you got all day to rest, you know, and you know what, that's what a part of being playing at Notre Dame is about.” Freeman said.

So fatigued or not, the Irish must buckle up for week eight.

“Man, we were fortunate we get for prime-time games and that's how we got to look at it. We get another primetime game versus USC at Notre Dame Stadium and if you're not, if you don't have the bubbles in your stomach, then you're not the elite competitor we need you to be right?" Freeman added.

The competitive nature of the Irish has allowed them to learn from their mistakes.

Such as the number of penalties (12) they racked up against duke in week six.

“I was really pleased with the way Zeke stepped up and was challenged, obviously, from the week before, with a couple of false start penalties,” Freeman mentioned.

The Irish only had 3 at Louisville, but in the game against Louisville it was the turnovers and lack of production from the offensive line.

Five sacks, two lost fumbles, and three interceptions.

“I think if you look at the turnovers, each one had a different reason. You know, the very first one by Sam and Sam would tell you he wished he threw a better ball.

We got to protect Sam. Right, we got to protect him better and not let him get hit on the one that was a sack fumble,” Freeman said.

As for facing QB Caleb Williams who's on a roll offensively with more than 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns through six weeks of the season, Freeman knows exactly what his defense is up against.

“He's one of those guys who are as good as advertised. There's a reason why he's the Heisman Trophy winner. He is very elite with arm talent with decision making with the ability to extend plays. He is a well-rounded, very talented football player. So, our defense will have its work cut out for them for sure,” Freeman said.

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