Staff predictions: North Carolina State
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, October 27, 2017
Ben Padanilam, Editor-in-Chief:
Last week, Notre Dame had the perfect matchup, and it took advantage of it by blowing USC out.
This week, the Irish have a much more difficult matchup.
NC State has arguably the best front seven in the country, led by future Sunday star Bradley Chubb. Its offense is balanced, throwing for 290 yards a game and rushing for another 177. And its greatest weapon against a defense that thrives and even depends on turnovers? A veteran quarterback in Ryan Finley, who is the the only signal caller in the country not to throw an interception this season.
The comparison with Georgia is a good one — this Wolfpack team might not be as talented, but they’ve been essentially as effective. And it’s a matchup that could trip up an Irish team still thinking of last Saturday.
FINAL SCORE: NC State 31, Notre Dame 24
Marek Mazurek, Assistant Managing Editor:
Something has to give.
North Carolina State’s strengths are stopping the run and not turning the ball over. Notre Dame’s strengths are taking the ball away and running all day, every day.
On paper, this should be a close one. But after a blowout win over USC, Brian Kelly has his squad out for blood .
The Irish jumped out to a fast start last week, and they’ll do it again, forcing the Wolfpack into obvious passing situations. Much has been made of Ryan Finley and his consistency, but Notre Dame’s defense will be the toughest NC State has faced so far this year, with a pass rush strong enough to frazzle Finley.
Brandon Wimbush has been very close on many of his downfield passes, and this Saturday is when he’ll start to connect with his receivers.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 35, NC State 20
Elizabeth Greason, Sports Editor:
The Irish proved they are a national threat once again with their dominant victory over USC last week.
However, it could prove difficult for the now-No. 9 squad to keep its focus on this week’s game against NC State after such an important rivalry game. But if Notre Dame can buckle down and get back to work this week, it should be able to handle the No. 14 Wolfpack.
North Carolina State will play much like Georgia with a few more weaknesses. And a much more inexperienced Notre Dame team only fell to Georgia by one point in Week 2 of the season. With four healthy running backs alongside a more confident Brandon Wimbush, the Irish will be able to overcome the strong Wolfpack front seven in a close game in Notre Dame’s favor.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, NC State 24
Tobias Hoonhout, Associate Sports Editor:
While the Irish beat rival USC, North Carolina State looms as a perfect trap game.
Brian Kelly’s team may have matched up incredibly well against the Trojans, but that won’t be the case with the Wolfpack. Much like Georgia, NC State has a terrific run defense and a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, and it will be telling to see if the Irish have the talent to overcome a battle in the trenches.
This one will be tight, which is disconcerting considering the sole Notre Dame loss this season has been in a close game. But the Irish and Brandon Wimbush have matured exponentially since the Week 2 loss to the Bulldogs, and I think they have the talent to grind out a victory that may help a lot with Notre Dame’s mental toughness.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, NC State 20
Daniel O’Boyle, Sports Writer:
The Wolfpack’s strengths line up almost perfectly with the Irish, boasting a top-10 run defense and an offense that has proven adept at avoiding mistakes and turnovers. That may draw comparisons to Georgia, who gave the Irish their only defeat of the year.
But the Bulldogs are just a better team than the Wolfpack, yet they still only beat the Irish by a solitary point. The Irish run defense should be able to be more effective than they were when they faced seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in Week 2, while Wimbush may be better equipped to deal with the Wolfpack’s weaker passing attack if the run game is shut down again.
The Irish have yet to win a close game this year, but that may change this week.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, NC State 21