Notre Dame’s offense apparently does not like late nights. It prefers to go to bed early. When the sun goes down, the No. 10 Irish prefer to be done for the day.
For the third straight week, Notre Dame (6-1) sputtered in primetime, and at No. 25 Louisville (6-0), the Irish defense could not hold up long enough for the offense to find its way. The Cardinals used two big-play touchdowns and multiple short fields to rout Notre Dame, 33-20, on Saturday night in front of the biggest crowd in Louisville football history.
In retrospect, the coming Irish struggles may have been clear from the first drive of the game, sixth-year quarterback Sam Hartman throwing an interception on the fourth snap of the game, trying to give a receiver a chance to make a play despite being under pressure. Freshman Rico Flores Jr. may not have even known the jump ball was on its way, coming earlier in his route than expected and his inexperience showing in not recognizing the situation as Cardinals cornerback Quincy Riley went up for the pass.
Louisville turned that into a touchdown, putting together a sustained touchdown drive, something of a rarity for Jeff Brohm’s offense, the only one of the night.
That pressure never left Hartman alone for long. The Cardinals racked up five sacks and hassled him plenty more than that, forcing three interceptions in the same stadium that Hartman threw three picks a year ago while still at Wake Forest.
“That’s why we won the game,” Brohm said to ABC immediately after the win, surrounded by Louisville fans on the field. “Anytime you win the turnover battle, that’s why you’re going to win. … We got to the quarterback, we effected him like we wanted to. That’s why we won the game.”
Hartman was wearing a plain gold helmet this time, rather than one with an interlocking “WF” on it, and going against a different coaching staff, but otherwise, the result at L&N Stadium had to feel too familiar for him.
He finished with 254 yards on Saturday, his only competitive touchdown pass surprisingly going to reserve freshman receiver Jordan Faison, better known for his potential lacrosse exploits. Hartman’s second touchdown — Notre Dame’s second touchdown — came once already down three possessions.
It was cosmetic, as were the Cardinals’ three fourth-quarter field goals, all coming on series without first downs, gifted field-goal range by the Irish offense. Louisville’s offense did not need to move the ball. It just needed to not turn it over. Notre Dame’s offense set it up with the rest.
Some will say Notre Dame was tired tonight. Maybe there is truth to that.
But the offensive game plan isn’t contingent on fatigue. And that’s been a wonder tonight.
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) October 8, 2023
6:05 — Louisville touchdown. Jamari Thrash 9-yard pass from Jack Plummer. Brock Travelstead pont after. Louisville 7, Notre Dame 0. (12 plays, 70 yards, 7:06)
6:58 — Notre Dame touchdown. Jordan Faison 36-yard pass from Sam Hartman. Spencer Shrader point after. Louisville 7, Notre Dame 7. (11 plays, 88 yards, 5:45)
13:18 — Notre Dame field goal. Shrader 53 yards. Notre Dame 10, Louisville 7. (4 plays, 4 yards, 1:35)
8:24 — Louisville field goal. Travelstead 44 yards. Notre Dame 10, Louisville 10. (9 plays, 48 yards, 4:54)
5:45 — Louisville touchdown. Jawhar Jordan 45-yard run. Travelstead point after. Louisville 17, Notre Dame 10. (2 plays, 64 yards, 0:43)
1:06 — Notre Dame field goal. Shrader 54 yards. Louisville 17, Notre Dame 13. (7 plays, 27 yards, 4:39)
11:12 — Louisville touchdown. Jordan 21-yard rush. Travelstead point after. Louisville 24, Notre Dame 13. (11 plays, 75 yards, 4:54)
7:31 — Louisville field goal. Travelstead 45 yards. Louisville 27, Notre Dame 13. (4 plays, 7 yards, 2:18)
5:02 — Louisville field goal. Travelstead 32 yards. Louisville 30, Notre Dame 13. (4 plays, -4 yards, 2:18)
3:12 — Louisville field goal. Travelstead 35 yards. Louisville 33, Notre Dame 13. (4 plays, 8 yards, 0:22)
1:35 — Notre Dame touchdown. Mitchell Evans 6-yard pass from Hartman. Louisville 33, Notre Dame 20. (7 plays, 75 yards, 1:37)