Just six games into his Notre Dame career, quarterback Sam Hartman already has made program history.
Hartman holds the school record for most pass attempts without an interception to open a season, and he will look to stay flawless on Saturday when the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish (5-1) visit No. 25 Louisville (5-0).
After a stellar five-year career at Wake Forest, Hartman came to Notre Dame with the hopes of stealing the spotlight on the national stage, and he has done so emphatically.
Hartman has thrown for 14 touchdowns and has attempted 145 passes without a pick this season. His interception-free streak ranks as the fourth longest overall for an Irish signal-caller.
However, Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman knows his quarterback’s TD-to-interception ratio will be put to the test against the Cardinals.
“Defensively, I think they’re really sound,” Freeman said. “They have an edge rusher — I think No. 9 (Ashton Gillotte) — that is going to be one of most elite pass-rushers we see. They have two corners that are physical and aggressive.
“So they’ll present a challenge for our program, and we’ve got to have a great week of preparation and get ready to play for Saturday night.”
The Fighting Irish are coming off a 21-14 win over then-No. 17 Duke last weekend. Hartman was held without a score but did engineer a 10-play, 95-yard drive that ended with Audric Estime’s 30-yard, go-ahead run to the end zone with 31 seconds to play.
Estime finished with 81 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on 18 carries.
Louisville beat North Carolina State 13-10 last week, holding the Wolfpack to 201 yards of total offense.
Cardinals quarterback Jack Plummer completed 21 of 35 passes for 286 yards and a TD, but he also threw a pair of interceptions and lost a fumble to account for all three of Louisville’s turnovers.
If the Cardinals want to pull off the upset on Saturday, coach Jeff Brohm knows his team can’t afford to make those types of mistakes.
“We’ll have our hands full,” Brohm said. “We’re gonna have to win a lot of the small battles — not turn the ball over, be efficient, be good in the red zone, find ways to get turnovers — and that’s gonna be the recipe for trying to come out with a victory.”
Although a top-10 team is coming to town, Brohm insists Louisville has no plans of backing down and is well-prepared for the challenge.
“Our guys have worked really hard, they know what’s ahead of us,” Brohm said. “We try to treat everything as a one-game season. Without question, this is an unbelievable opportunity for our football team to go out and play a high-quality opponent.”
Freeman also is focused on the task at hand.
“We have a saying, ‘One game, one life.’ This is all that matters,” he said. “The reality is you can’t be worried about the outcome of the game as much as preparing yourself for the game, preparing this team and making sure we’re ready to perform at our highest level on Saturday.”
Notre Dame is 2-1 against Louisville all-time, having won the most recent matchup 12-7 in 2020 at South Bend, Ind.