Notre Dame Football Primer: NC State ’17

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.

My Prediction:

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

 

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16 comments

  1. Greg Kelly 2 years ago

    You just don’t know, Jack. The twelfth man may have to show up for this.

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  2. Jack 2 years ago

    I’m very worried about this game. But I was also worried about USC. So that shows you what I know!

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  3. Greg Kelly 2 years ago

    Let’s hope the Irish dispatch the Wolves soon enough and we can get to the series.

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    1. david 2 years ago

      Kelly is a fraud. The sooner he leaves the better.
      CEO of ND Football is legendary position.
      Kelly’s not an owner…he’s a temporary & ambitious tenant.
      And he’s fine with that. I’m not.

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  4. southside 2 years ago

    No doubt about it — this is big time payback. Irish just keep on doing what they’ve been doing. I see no let down alert here , but rather a team very aware of their accomplishments–they are hungry and want more. One other thing to point out is that these Irish players from game to game are better in talent than players of opposing team. Thanks to the new coaching staff for bringing that out. Irish go 7-1. We’ll see where where the College Football Comittee ranks the Irish in the poll that counts. Irish are gonna needs some help climbing up the ladder. Sorry Damian , but Penn State win gives Ohio State two losses. Buckeyes are done. Need to root for Iowa State to upset TCU unbeaten season–putting the Horned Frogs in the log jam of one loss teams. I know some of you posters don’t like looking ahead — but it can’t be helped. Especially with the 1st College Playoff poll coming out Mon/Tues of next week. No doubt the players/teams are aware of what’s going on —and no what’s at stake each game.

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  5. david 2 years ago

    The main reason ND lost the NC State game last year was because of Sam Mustipher’s “atrocious” snapping.

    Just ask Brian “throw them under the bus” & “passing in this will really fool them” Kelly.

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    1. Damian 2 years ago

      Yes, I imagine you’ll be one of the few here to be rooting against ND come tomorrow.

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      1. david 2 years ago

        I want Kelly gone. He is a fraud.
        If you just want wins and at any price, that’s your choice….but perhaps YOU should be the one questioning your “priorities”, bub.

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  6. Greg Kelly 2 years ago

    The Irish don’t have to win this game in the first, second or third quarter. The dog will be biting our leg and won’t let go. Finally in the final quarter we will shake the dog loose and grab three td’s to get the win.

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    1. david 2 years ago

      You want to delve into mascot humor? Really?!
      What confidence.

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  7. Brad Sinclair 2 years ago

    This might sound a little bit odd but… I loved last week’s game and the whooping the Irish gave to the Trojans. Rah, rah, rah!!! I am not sure that it is a season defining game. The season isn’t over yet. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the USC game but I don’t want to look too far ahead.

    In some ways the NC game could be just as season defining. How do the Irish respond after a big win? Do they coast or do they execute? Can they really run against a tough defence? They didn’t do so well against Georgia but I think they are a stronger and better team now than they were against Georgia. NC brings a very balanced offence into South Bend. How will our defence – especially our secondary – respond?

    At the end of the day it’s all about preparing for every game as if it were a season defining game. I get nervous when we talk about the need to win out and competing for the NC. One step at a time please. What they need to do most importantly is win tomorrow against a good team. After that they need to win against the next team on the schedule and so it goes.

    With that said, I do think the Irish are a better team than NC. If they play the way they are capable of playing and if the passing game continues to improve, I see them winning this game in a methodical way. I can go with the 35-17 score.

    Going back to last week, you can definitely call me a cautious pessimist.

    Go Irish

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    1. david 2 years ago

      Worst USC team in many years. Yay, ND.

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  8. Damian 2 years ago

    I actually think this will be a tougher game. Not so much because of any let down after the USC beatdown. The Irish have been very good at not falling into any trap games and I don’t think this weekend will be any different. Also, our defense has been very good this season, even against the best team on our schedule, Georgia. Now I’m not sure if they will get many, if any turnovers out of NC State, but I believe they will make the needed stops. And I’m not sure the weather won’t help ND more than NC State, at least temperature wise. The Irish are used to cold, NC State not as much. Rain I think would affect both sides equally, though that’s where if we can get the run going it may help us.

    What concerns me is our rushing game against their defense. Their run defense is better than USC’s. Obviously the Irish live on the rushing game first and if NC State manages to keep that in check we can be in for a long game. Our passing game has been improving, but I don’t think we’re to the point that will win a game for us without a dominant running game. I have a feeling the score may be closer then previous games, except for Georgia. I’m not sure we will rout NC State like USC.

    A little surprised NBC didn’t try to move this game to a night game, though I guess that’s probably not possible. But didn’t they move games around in the past to night games when they became more marquee?

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    1. Ron Burgundy 2 years ago

      There’s a fairly important baseball game being played Saturday night and I’m guessing NBC likes ratings.

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      1. Damian 2 years ago

        Ahh, yes. I forgot about that. Since my Phillies never made it I haven’t been following the post-season closely. I can’t get excited about watching other teams.

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      2. david 2 years ago

        Important and baseball can never be in the same sentence.

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