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Thursday, October 28, 2010
What to watch: Notre Dame, Week 9

By Brian Bennett

What to watch from Notre Dame in its home game against Tulsa on Saturday:

1. Shootout in South Bend: Tulsa is averaging more than 38 points per game and has scored at least 41 points four times already this season. The Golden Hurricane's zone-read spread will try to outduel Notre Dame's spread attack, which got shut down by Navy last week. But Tulsa has also allowed more than 50 points to each of the two best teams on its schedule, East Carolina and Oklahoma State. Expect a lot of fireworks.

2. On the nose: Notre Dame begins life without Ian Williams this week, as Williams may miss the rest of the regular season with an MCL sprain. Sean Cwynar and Hafis Williams will split reps at nose tackle, which is an integral part of the 3-4 defense. Tulsa's preference for playing in space may lessen the importance of the nose tackle position this week, but the Irish certainly need Williams' replacements to play at a high level the rest of the season.

3. Floyd's return: Star receiver Michael Floyd says he will return this week from his injured hamstring, which will definitely provide a boost to the offense. How effective he will be remains to be seen. Notre Dame needs as many weapons as possible if it's going to try to keep up with Tulsa's offense.

4. Dealing with tragedy: Notre Dame student manager Declan Sullivan was killed when a tower used to video tape practice collapsed Wednesday. The tragedy must have shaken the team and the coaches. They'll have heavy hearts going into Saturday's game.