Last year’s NC State vs Notre Dame contest was one of the most bizarrely-entertaining scrums of the 2016 season. Literally played inside the outer edge of Hurricane Matthew, the game devolved into a splash-and-crawl battle between 2 drenched and soggy offenses unable to swim a stroke. As with the Snow Bowl between Michigan and Ohio State in 1951, the winners (NC State) blocked a punt in the 2nd half and won by a touchdown.
It might not be so lucky for the Wolfpack this season. The 6-1 Fighting Irish are coming off one of the most impressive wins by any Division 1 football team all season, whipping USC 49-14 with a dominant ground game and fierce defense. Notre Dame held USC to just over 300 yards of offense (a chunk of those coming in “garbage” time), intercepted Sam Darnold and scored 5 sacks. The Irish offense rushed for almost 400 yards, QB Brandon Wimbush streaking for over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns while passing for 2 more.
NC State is enjoying an excellent season, ranked #14th and having won 6 in a row after a disappointing start against South Carolina. But is it realistic to think anyone can stand up to the hot UND offense right now?
Who: North Carolina State Wolfpack at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
When: Saturday, October 28th, 3:30 PM EST
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
Lines: NCSU (+7.5) at UND (-7.5) / O/U Total: (59.5)
Any point spread set at (7.5) is tricky. After all, the winning team may not need an extra field goal or touchdown in the closing minutes, should they hold a 7-point lead and the ball. But in this situation, the exact spread seems like less of a big deal.
If the Irish have really built the most unstoppable running attack since Georgia Tech in 2014, and Wimbush continues to burn even talented defenses on play-action, then Notre Dame is a 70% to 80% chance to cover. If NC State can somehow control the ball and figure out a way for a well-rested defense to plug up the holes, then the Wolfpack have the probability to cover.
NC State ranks in the top 1/3 of FBS teams in time-of-possession. Their rush defense is also a killer, allowing less than 100 yards per game.
We’re liking the Wolfpack to cover, based on their organizational focus on run defense and healthy running game.
If they fall behind, QB Ryan Finley should have enough in his arsenal to draw the ‘Pack at least as close as a touchdown difference.