Game of the Week: Notre Dame vs. NC State
For the second straight week, Notre Dame claims the Game of the Week. Also for the the second straight week, Notre Dame feels it was neglected to receive a visit from College Game due to a Big Ten match-up involving No. 2 Penn State. Although this week’s may be more justified, Notre Dame is turning many experts’ heads as they are set up to state their claim as a College Football Playoff contender.
One week after absolutely dismantling what was at one point a CFP contender in No. 11 USC, the Fighting Irish are set up to possibly go on a run that would configure the resume that would steal a spot in the College Football Playoff, angering plenty of power five conference teams.
If and only if Notre Dame wins out, they would have several defining wins including Michigan State, USC, NC State, Miami, and Stanford. Notre Dame’s only blemish would be a one-point loss to No. 3 Georgia.
This resume would force the committee to respect the Fighting Irish and place them in the playoff before a power five conference champion.
This path, albeit possible, will be incredibly difficult to accomplish, starting with a dangerous NC State team. NC State is on a six-game winning streak after losing their season opener to South Carolina by one possession. This streak includes wins over then-No. 12 Florida State and a Louisville team who was ranked No. 17 at the time.
NC State is currently sitting at the top of the Atlantic division of the ACC. This is largely due to their ability to take care of the football. NC State’s quarterback, Ryan Finley, has yet to throw an interception this year and the rest of the Wolfpack have just three fumbles all year. These numbers lead the country and show off the experience that the NC State team has under their belt.
Ryan Finley is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the nation. The junior out of Phoenix, Arizona boasts a QBR of 150.6 this season, with 11 touchdowns on the season. He is quietly being the most efficient quarterbacks in college football, and this “secret” could be exposed on Saturday against Notre Dame.
Both NC State and Notre Dame have dynamic running backs. NC State’s running back, Nyheim Hines, is fourth in the country with 178 all-purpose yards per game. Hines is a real threat in the return game, as he showed against Pittsburgh two weeks ago.
Notre Dame’s running back Josh Adams leads one of the top rushing attacks in the nation. Adams has rushed for 967 yards this year, adding eight touchdowns to his stat line. Notre Dame is sixth in the country in rushing YPG, which is huge when it comes to holding onto leads late. However, they are 117th in the nation in passing offense.
This may be their flaw when it comes to overcoming a deficit in the second half. One-dimensional offenses seem to struggle down the stretch, but Notre Dame is looking to change that narrative.
NC State’s senior defensive end Bradley Chubb leads a ferocious defensive line for the Wolfpack. The defensive line has several NFL-bound seniors who carried NC State in several games, including their upset against FSU early in the season. The Wolfpack defense is sixth in the nation in rushing defense, only allowing 91 rushing yards per game.
The Notre Dame defense isn’t quite as stout. Yes, the Fighting Irish have yet to allow more than 20 points a game, but this is largely due to forcing turnovers. The Notre Dame defense has recovered the third most fumbles in the nation, 10. Notre Dame is 42nd in the nation in total defense, allowing more than 360 yards per game.
NC State’s strengths seem to play perfectly into Notre Dame’s weaknesses. With Notre Dame leaning on turnovers for defense, they will have a tough go-of-it when it comes to NC State. NC State simply does not turn the ball over. They have the discipline on offense to pick apart the Notre Dame defense.
Also, Notre Dame’s sole weapon on offense, the run game, will face its toughest run defense all year. With the experience and tenacity that NC State has on their defensive line, it will most likely neutralize the Irish’s run game.
Even if Notre Dame is the better team, the matchups in this game particularly give the edge to NC State.
The balanced offense and stingy run defense of NC State will conquer a Notre Dame team that just began its playoff aspirations. They will dominate on both sides of the ball, stunning Notre Dame in its own building.
Prediction: NC State 31, Notre Dame 16
Christian Katt is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.