Notre Dame will showcase a new starting quarterback when it seeks its first win of the season at the expense of visiting Cal on Saturday.
The Fighting Irish were projected to be a College Football Playoff contender but are 0-2. The Golden Bears were picked to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12 Conference but are 2-0.
Drew Pyne will start at quarterback for Notre Dame, with Tyler Buchner having undergone season-ending shoulder surgery.
Pyne, a redshirt sophomore, came on for the injured Buchner in the fourth quarter of last week’s stunning 26-21 home loss to Marshall, throwing a touchdown pass with 14 seconds left to Michael Mayer but also getting intercepted once among his six throws.
“I didn’t know when his time was going to come, but here it is,” Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said of Pyne. “He’s always prepared like a starter; he’s prepared like a pro. That’s who Drew Pyne is. He doesn’t need to be any different than he’s always been.”
Notre Dame also lost its opener, 21-10 at Ohio State, and will take the field Saturday unranked after landing in the No. 5 spot in the preseason ratings.
Cal remains unranked even after the unbeaten start, having struggled at times to turn back UC Davis 34-13 and UNLV 20-14, both at home.
The Fighting Irish and Golden Bears haven’t met since 1967 — Notre Dame is 4-0 in the all-time series — but the hosts should be plenty familiar with Cal quarterback Jack Plummer, a transfer from Purdue.
Plummer started for the Boilermakers in a 27-13 loss to Notre Dame last season, going 25 of 36 for 187 yards and one touchdown.
He has four TD passes in the first two games of his Golden Bears career, totaling 546 yards on 51-of-74 passing with two interceptions.
Plummer recognizes his team will have to match Notre Dame’s intensity to have a chance Saturday.
“(Our) guys are going to be hungry,” Plummer said, “and we’re going to be playing a team that they’re going to be hungry. It’s going to be a good game.”
–Field Level Media