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What to watch from Notre Dame, Week 9

10/28/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

What to watch from Notre Dame in Saturday's game against Washington State in San Antonio:

1. Breaking out the cruise control: It's been six straight edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath games for Notre Dame. Finally, the Irish should have a good old-fashioned rout on their hands against 1-6 Washington State. The Cougars rank in the bottom 10 of the FBS rankings in the following categories: rushing offense, scoring offense, total offense, total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass defense. You get the idea. Everything is set up for the Irish offense to have a huge day and for the defense to feel good about itself. Anything less would qualify as a complete disappointment.

2. Youngsters on the field: Charlie Weis bemoaned this week that the nature of the close game prevented him from working in some of his young and inexperienced players, especially on the offensive line. This game should allow those newbies to get on the field for a quarter or so, which could be important for their development down the line.

3. The atmosphere: Honestly, it's hard to find too many things on the field to get interested about this week. But it will be the first of Notre Dame's planned annual neutral-site games, and this one is well out of the Irish's usual comfort zone in San Antonio. How will it work? How many Notre Dame fans show up? Will it be a college atmosphere? The answers may shape the future of this idea.