MOUNT PLEASANT-- For the first time, Central Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame will meet as football opponents.
So far, Notre Dame has gone up against nine Mid-American Conference opponents; their record against the MAC currently sits at a perfect 9-0.
The (3-0) 9th ranked Irish will look to make that 10-0 on Saturday against the 1-1 CMU Chippewas. While it would be easy for Notre Dame to brush off their home game against an unranked CMU, ND head coach Marcus Freeman knows what type of teams Jim McElwain puts together.
“He’s got a good football team. It doesn’t take long to really watch that. Their offense is explosive. The quarterback (Bert Emanuel Jr.) makes it go. He is an athletic quarterback, and he can run it. You can watch the first series of the last game. He takes the ball 40-50 yards and scores a touchdown, so we have to be ready for that. I think they’ve got some good skill. And our defense will have a good challenge,” he said.
It’s a challenge the Chippewas are looking forward to, as they understand what could be at stake on a national stage like Notre Dame Stadium, playing against potential future NFL players.
“Those boys out there. Those are big time names. So you do something out there. And then coaches are gonna be watching, next-level coaches. They could be watching you too. So you’re gonna give yourself a big opportunity- each and every player. We all know that, so they’re gonna get 100%,” running back Marion Lukes said.
Though the Chippewas are going up against some of the best in the nation, they understand that there will be weaknesses that they can attack.
“They put up a lot of points, which can be scary at moments, but not for us, we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna give our best. And like I said before, they’re human beings, they bleed just like us, they do normal things in life just like us. And they just have a lot bigger of a stage- and they do play great. But we’re gonna go in there, we’re gonna give it all we got,” defensive end Michael Heldman said.
Notre Dame quarterback, Sam Hartman, is already in the Heisman conversation. He’s thrown for 10 touchdowns already this season– and has thrown 87 since 2021, the most of any Power 5 QB.
“Top offensive line, top running back group, great quarterback, and a great tight end room, and they’re all a great unit. And that’s why they’ve been scoring a lot of points. And what we need to do as a defense is just to attack. We need to use our hands, use our physicality, and they might be bigger, they might be stronger, but we just have to be the best we can be. We have to use all of our strength and all of our might to get past these guys,” Heldman said.
Notre Dame is averaging 47 points per game so far in the 2023 season.
“Over the years and places I’ve coached, watching these guys on film, I’m surprised they’re not a top five team,” head coach Jim McElwain said of the Irish. “Let’s go get them. Each week is a brand new opportunity. And I think for us, it’s about taking advantage of the opportunity on both sides of the ball.”
Kickoff is set for 2:30 pm. The game can be watched live on Peacock.