After a season defining win against the USC Trojans, the Irish face another top 15 team in the NC State Wolfpack. Notre Dame has playoffs aspirations and they cannot afford to look past a good Wolfpack team this weekend. The Irish will look to build on an already impressive resume as the first College Football Playoff Polls are set to come out in a week.
What you Need to Know:
- Game Time: October 28th 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC
- Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
- Matchup: NC State leads the all-time series 2-0 (NC State won last year’s meeting 10 to 3)
- Current Odds: Notre Dame -7
- GameDay Events: This weekend’s Pep Rally will take place inside Purcell Pavilion at 6:00 p.m. For more information on GameDay events go to http://gameday.nd.edu/events/calendar/2017-ncstate/
Game Day Weather: The weather this weekend will be a major factor. For the first time this season, it will be cold in South Bend. The current forecast calls for a high of 44 degrees with a low of 37 degrees. There will be a 60% chance of rain on GameDay.
NC State Details:
- Conference: ACC
- Head Coach: Dave Doeren
- 2017 Record: 6-1
- 2016 Record: 7-6
NC State Storylines:
Will the NC State Wolfpack be able to upset the Irish, who are coming off an emotional win last weekend? NC State’s only loss came to South Carolina in the first game of the season. Since then, the Wolfpack have looked good against opponents such as Florida State, Syracuse, Louisville, and Pittsburgh. They will need to play their best game of the season in order to upset the resurgent Fighting Irish.
NC State features a solid defensive line that is led by AP mid-season First Team All-American, Bradley Chubb, at defensive end. This defense and more specifically the defensive line has wreaked havoc on teams all season. The biggest matchup in this contest will be in the trenches, between the Irish offensive line and Wolfpack defensive line.
NC State is led by a strong dual-threat quarterback in Ryan Finley. Finley has yet to throw an interception all season. The Wolfpack quarterback has a 69.4% completion percentage and has thrown for 11 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 80 yards on 27 attempts this year.
The greatest weapon on offense is another AP mid-season All-American tight end, Jaylen Samuels. Samuels has 54 catches, 453 yards, and 3 touchdowns on the season. He is alongside wide receiver Kelvin Harmon who has 36 receptions, 547 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
Nyheim Hines is the leading rusher for NC State. He has 116 carries for 648 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Wolfpack have a well balanced offense and mistake free quarterback. The Irish have already forced 17 turnovers on the season, and will attempt to do so against a disciplined Wolfpack team.
Notre Dame Storylines:
Payback will be a major theme leading up to this game. Last year it was a disgrace that the football game was even played. A hurricane was on top of the stadium and in no way shape or form did that meeting exhibit a fair football game. I’ll digress. The fact is Notre Dame had a punt blocked which was the difference in the game. This year the Irish should be looking to show the NC State Wolfpack that they shouldn’t get used to beating Notre Dame.
Notre Dame on let down alert. How motivated will Notre Dame be? The Irish are coming off an impressive win against their biggest rival last weekend. They are now a top ten football team in both polls. However, Kelly wants to get into the playoffs and reiterated at the end of the game that only determined teams can go into each week with the same mindset. The culture has changed and I don’t believe the Irish will be under motivated.
Will Notre Dame have to pass more? Many people thought the Irish would have to open up the pass game against USC last weekend in order to win, myself included. However, even when USC knew the Irish were running, the Trojans still couldn’t stop them. The only defense to slow down the Irish was the Georgia Bulldogs, which alongside Alabama, likely have the best two defenses in the entire country.
The Irish are facing a solid defensive line. But I think the Irish will still be able to run the ball. Notre Dame’s passing attack is improving each week, although Wimbush did miss several deep “touch” passes. Kevin Stepherson has come back in full force, as Kelly says he has finally displayed the traits he has been looking for at practice. Along with St. Brown, Mack, Smythe, and Claypool, the Irish passing attack will continue to develop.
Head to Head Matchups:
Notre Dame Offense vs. NC State Defense – Advantage Irish- The Notre Dame Offensive line is dominating. They opened up holes last weekend where Josh Adams wasn’t even touched. Josh Adams is a great running back for this line, and should definitely be in the Heisman conversation averaging 9.2 yards per carry. Brandon Wimbush continues to make it difficult for defenses to stop his running ability. When Wimbush finally gets his passing game “completely” figured out, opposing defenses won’t be able to stop him.
The Irish have the advantage in this matchup.
NC State Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense – Advantage Notre Dame- NC State has a solid all around team, and their quarterback hasn’t even thrown an interception. Conversely, the Irish have only allowed 1 rushing touchdown all season and are forcing turnovers in bunches. Teams just have not been able to run the football on Notre Dame. USC only had 76 rushing yards all game and some of that was Sam Darnold trying to escape the pass rush.
This will be an intriguing matchup to watch. The Wolfpack are a very mistake free team, and the Irish have made a living on taking the ball away.
Special Teams – Tie- The Notre Dame punt return looked impressive last weekend with Chris Finke setting up quality field position for the Irish. However, the Irish punt return defense needs to be better this weekend after giving up some yardage to USC returners. NC State punt returner Nyheim Hines did return a punt for a touchdown last weekend against Pittsburgh, which is something the Irish need to keep an eye on.
Justin Yoon hasn’t been used much this year because the Irish have been so efficient in the red zone, he is 7 for 10 on the year after missing his first 2 attempts. His counterpart, Carson Wise is only 6 for 11 on the season.
Notre Dame has five remaining games on the schedule, they obviously need to win out in order to have any shot at the College Football Playoffs. This game will be a key resume builder if the Irish can take care of business at home.
The current forecast concerns me a little. I think a cold, rainy game definitely favors the underdog, which is the NC State Wolfpack. Brian Kelly has learned from past mistakes and the Irish will be mentally prepared for this game. The Notre Dame Offensive Line will be too much for the NC State Wolfpack, along with an Irish Defense that has yet to allow an opponent to score over 20 points.
If the Irish can play mistake free, I see the Irish pulling away. I have the Irish winning by 18.
My Prediction: Notre Dame 35 NC State 17