Frankie V Prediction: Notre Dame v. North Carolina ’17

Ian Book - Notre Dame QB

Notre Dame hits the road this afternoon for the third time this season as they look to improve to 5-1 on the season with an injury riddled North Carolina team standing in their way.  The Tar Heels will host the Irish as perhaps the most injured team in the country.  Notre Dame brings its own injury concerns into the game as well with the status of starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush still up in the air.  Can the Irish win without Wimbush?  Let’s find out.

What Concerns Me This Week

The health of the Notre Dame running backs.  Notre Dame running backs have been a bit banged up over the last few weeks.  The Irish didn’t have Tony Jones for the Michigan State game or Dexter Williams for Miami of Ohio.  Then last week the Irish lost Josh Adams to a “cranky” ankle and Tony Jones after taking a head shot in the 2nd quarter.  All Irish backs are expected to be ready this week though it would be surprising to see much if any of Jones after the hit he took last week.  Notre Dame needs all three backs to get through this week and into the bye week healthy because they will be needed for the upcoming stretch of games featuring 3 ranked opponents over four weeks.

Staying healthy.  With a bye week next week before USC and a wounded opponent that the Irish should handle easily today, let’s hope the Irish do so while staying healthy.  If the Irish win today and head into the showdown with USC at 5-1, they will have a chance to insert themselves into the playoff conversation.  I’ve been avoiding mentioning the P word so far after last year, but if the Irish are sitting at 5-1 while hosting the Trojans, they could get themselves back in the mix.  Now, let’s make sure they get there 5-1 ad they do so healthy.

Midterms Week.  Notre Dame has had a history of being flat during midterms week and this year midterms also combine with a road game.  Ruh roh right?  Possibly.  If Notre Dame comes out sluggish this could be one of the reasons why.

A repeat of 2014. I have had a hard time not having some flashbacks to 2014 when it looked like the Notre Dame defense under then first year defensive coordinator Brian Vangorder was on it’s way to becoming a pretty good unit.  Then North Carolina came to town and tore that defense apart and it was never the same after.  This one could just be a bit of paranoia but that game shouldn’t have been close either but it was.

What Doesn’t Concern Me This Week

Who starts at quarterback for Notre Dame.  I don’t think it matters who starts for Notre Dame under center.  North Carolina’s defense is so banged up that the Irish could potentially win this one with very little passing at all.  I don’t think we’ll see Wimbush start after trying to interpret Kelly-speak all week and think Ian Book is capable of coming in and leading the offense to a victory.  Wimbush will still be available if needed, but I don’t think he will be.  Book meanwhile will put together a nice stat sheet and there will be an inevitable call for him to start by some Irish fans.

Notre Dame’s 3rd road game in 4 weeks. Notre Dame has been pretty bad on the road in recent years but so far this year the Irish have won both road games by 20 or more points against Power 5 opponents.  North Carolina doesn’t exactly have an intimidating atmosphere and their previously mentioned injury woes won’t make it any sort of daunting task to go in to Chapel Hill this afternoon.

Players to Watch

  • Josh Adams – How is that ankle today?
  • Equanimeous St. Brown – If Ian Book does start, ESB will be getting a lot of one on one looks with Carolina likely loading the box to force Book to beat them with his arm.  Brown could finally have the breakout performance we’ve been waiting for all season today.
  • Daelin Hayes – He’s been very quiet in the pass rush since week one.  Can they get the youngster going today?
  • Notre Dame Tight Ends – If Book starts, the tight ends should be involved early and often as young quarterbacks tend to lean on their tight ends.
  • Nick Watkins – He had a tough outing last week but he’s too good to have back to back games like that.  UNC might test him early after they saw last week’s game tape though.
  • Shaun Crawford – Because watch this kid every week.  He’s a ballhawk.
  • Dexter Williams – Will he be fully back this week?
  • Kevin Stepherson – We saw him briefly last week for a series and then not much else.  Look for Notre Dame to try to get him involved more this week.

How’d I Do Last Week

Not too shabby.  At halftime it looked like my prediction would be way off as Notre Dame raced to 45 first half points.  The Irish finished with a 52-17 victory while I predicted Notre Dame 49-13.  I was worried about Notre Dame’s running backs health last week and sure enough the Irish lost Josh Adams after his absolutely torrid start.  Adams had 159 yards before getting shut down in the second quarter with a minor ankle injury.  He is expected back today though.

Prediction Time

Regardless of who starts at quarterback, this is a game Notre Dame should win.  The Tar Heels string of injuries has been absolutely brutal.  Notre Dame’s running game should be able to get going no matter how much North Carolina stacks the box as long as the Notre Dame running backs are relatively healthy.  The Tar Heels have scored just 24 points combined in the last two weeks against Duke and Wake Forest.  Mike Elko’s defense will continue its string of holding opponents to 20 points or less this afternoon and Notre Dame’s ground game and some timely passing from Book (or Wimbush) get it done and get the Irish back into the top 20.

In the preseason I had predicted a 31-21 victory for Notre Dame, but given what I’ve seen so far, I’m not sticking with that.  I think Notre Dame wins bigger than that today even with it being a road game during midterms week.

Actual Prediction: Notre Dame 41, North Carolina 17
Preseason Prediction: Notre Dame 31, North Carolina 21

Yearly Prediction Summary

GamePre-SeasonGame WeekActual Outcome
Week 12: StanfordND 24-21ND 31-17
Week 11: NavyND 49-17ND 45-24ND 24-17
Week 10: MiamiND 31-27ND 38-24UM 41-8
Week 9: Wake ForestND 34-24ND 42-13ND 48-37
Week 8: #14 NC StateND 34-17ND 34-24ND 35-14
Week 7: #21 USCUSC 38-24ND 34-31ND 49-14
Week 6: North CarolinaND 31-21ND 41-17ND 33-10
Week 5: Miami OHND 42-17ND 49-13ND 52-17
Week 4: #16 Michigan StateND 24-13ND 30-28ND 38-18
Week 3: Boston CollegeND 35-10ND 35-10ND 49-20
Week 2: #3 GeorgiaUGA 29-27UGA 29-27UGA 20-19
Week 1: TempleND 31-21ND 31-21ND 49-16

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  1. Jeff 10 months ago

    Solid performance by Ian Book. Hard to win on the road with your
    inexperienced back up QB. He made some mistakes and poor throws.
    He got away with throwing across his body a few times. Overall he did
    a good job under tough circumstances. Great to get this kid some reps
    because lets face it, Wimbush will get hurt again.

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  2. Keith 10 months ago

    Lots of negativity over this game and I agree it was a disappointing performance.

    But can we just take a minute to appreciate the luxury of being disappointed by a 23 point victory, on the road, with our backup QB, against a Power5 team?

    Our #4 RB ran for 124 yards and 2 TDs on 12 carries. Our defense recorded 2 sacks, 5 TFLs, 11 QB hurries, a safety, and forced 3 turnovers.

    Nearly 500 yards of total offense in the rain, on a below average field, with a QB making his first start and a few big mistakes (which we overcame). If you’d have told me in July that I’d be disappointed by a game like this, I’d have called you crazy.

    It’s awesome being disappointed by a 23 point win instead of justifying or explaining a 3-point loss. It’s just awesome.

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    1. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

      Solid observations, Keith.

      There is definitely progress. Now, it’s time to take the next step and beat ranked teams.

      Go Irish!

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      1. Keith 10 months ago

        We’ll get our chance in 3 of our next 4 games (though a victory over ranked team might already be on our resume thanks to MSU).

        Go Irish!

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  3. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    Bradley, good job. At least I got correct Book, taking the K nee. Looking forward to see your forecast in 2weeks.

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  4. ChrisJ 10 months ago

    I think this puts those conversations of Book for Wimbush to rest for some of you thinking that was a possibility. Wimbush is too dynamic of a runner which adds that much more to the offense. He will learn to pass better, there’s no doubt.

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  5. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    This starting D is beginning to allow a lot of yards and plays to a really bad UNC O.

    This is the 2012 D all over again. A truly elite O would have their way with them.

    I guess we’ll find out how good this D is in two weeks. Hopefully they make me eat my words!

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  6. tommy651 10 months ago

    if Kelly had to make a choice between running the ball three times in a row or getting cancer I think he would opt for cancer. are the running backs that beat up?

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  7. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    Game over , but, Bradley I know you’re nervous, garbage time starting and Heels will get to 17 points

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  8. spiceyirish 10 months ago

    On the bright side, this is the best Notre Dame has played along the defensive front in about five years.

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  9. George 10 months ago

    Book is a bit careless with the ball, but Wimbush is afraid to throw it. Who else we got? MVG?

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    1. spiceyirish 10 months ago

      Is Avery Davis the true freshman QB?

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      1. George 10 months ago

        I don’t think he even dresses

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  10. spiceyirish 10 months ago

    Brian Kelly thought process, “We scored on a two play drive where we just ran the ball down their throats. Lets throw the ball the next 9 out of 10 times.”

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  11. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Don’t worry, Spicey, Irish will now pull away.

    But this is still a sub-par performance.

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    1. Dan MacDonald 10 months ago


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  12. spiceyirish 10 months ago

    Notre Dame is barely beating a mistake prone, injury ravaged 1-4 team

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  13. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Worst throw in ND history!

    This guy is at best a third stringer at most schools.

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  14. George 10 months ago

    Having an offensive coordinator with more than one year experience calling plays would probably help

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  15. George 10 months ago

    Crawford is the only decent player in the entire secondary

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  16. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Book just missed two DBs on three WRs!

    That’s about as cold as it gets.

    Can ND go just one half without the O line getting a flase start penalty?! How about just one quarter?!

    I insist that this unit is over-rated. It wouldn’t hold up against even a good D much less an elite one like UGA, much less Bama.

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  17. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    Book gets hot in 2ndhalf and takes the K nee at the end.

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  18. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    I have a real bad feeling about this game. I sure hope I’m wrong. But this looks like so many other games ND has lost over the last two-plus decades.

    Hopefully the D can get a cheap score because this O is pretty useless.

    UNC is a bad team that is injury plagued and yet ND can’t put them away! Sad!

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  19. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    Don’t laugh it off, we may need that safety to keep this from ot.

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  20. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Now Newsome pins NC inside the five! This is a very average team even with Wimbush.

    ND hasn’t played anyone except UGA (before the Dawgs got hot on O).

    Thankfully UNC is brainless and gifted ND two points. Might make a difference the way this game is shaping up.

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  21. Mzipprich 10 months ago

    I thought our offensive play caller was shitty… WOW.

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  22. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    SFR, now you know why we don’t have a downfield passing game. Book, just trying to show off his arm. Both teams. We still may need Wimbush after all.

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  23. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Watch out now, boys!

    This is a game ND has lost so often in the last almost three decades.

    Like I said, this D is smoke and mirrors. Ohio St. or Bama would put up 50 plus on these guys! Especially with no O.

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  24. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Has Newsome ever pinned anyone inside the 5!

    This O is mediocre. The Irish have only played one legit D this season. What happened?

    The D is opportunistic. But make no mistake it won’t stop a top-tier O. We played UGA at the right time.

    This team has a lot of holes on O, D, and STs.

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  25. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    Chaz thought he was stopping the clock, give me a break.

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  26. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    No downfield passing game!

    Book is an average D1 QB. That was his ranking coming out of HS. You won’t win NCs with the Ian Books of the world.

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  27. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    Pooch kick against a 1-4 team. Book, the best intramural QB we ever had. Adams just took the game into his hands.

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  28. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Nyles Morgan BS not wrapping up cost ND field position!

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  29. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Stupid pooch kick!

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  30. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    SFR, looks like Alize “Big”Mack has slimmed down since last time I saw Him as slow as molasses.

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    1. SteelFanRob 10 months ago


      Huge addition to the O if this kid starts to play up to his hype!

      GO IRISH!

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    2. George 10 months ago

      Now he just needs to learn how to catch a football and to put forth some effort and we’ll be all set

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  31. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    SFR, Now that He’s getting warmed up, Book reminds me of Rick”gunslinger” Slager. He has to work on His QB sneaks.

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    1. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

      GK, not even Big Ben picks that up!

      The playcall was atrocious. So is the play of the most over-rated unit in CFB, namely, the ND O line. Pretty much whenever they play a real D1 D they punk out!

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  32. Mzipprich 10 months ago

    A 2 yard quarterback sneak, nice fucking playcall at midfield??????

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  33. SteelFanRob 10 months ago


    So much for the dominant ND O line!

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  34. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Hey, GK, what’s plan B for today since ND looks unstoppable with a backup QB? ND will score at least 100.

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  35. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    At this rate we may have to get Wimbush in there boot and crutches.

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  36. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    Heels will get a esthetician saving score at the end to make it look respectable when our reserves show what they’ve got.

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  37. jeff 10 months ago

    72-3 Irish. Not worth watching. Plan B in effect. Golf at Schaffers Mill, Truckee, Ca. I’ll spin thru it tonight and catch what i missed

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  38. Brad Sinclair 10 months ago

    Can’t see NC scoring 17 points. The Irish roll again

    ND 38 NC 13

    Go Irish!!!!

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  39. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    Watkins will be handing out samples of Watkins liniment after He dishes it out to the TarHeels. Notre Dame 27-17.

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