NC State will face off against Notre Dame Saturday for the second time in school history. Their first meeting was in the 2002 Gator Bowl, where the Wolfpack dominated the 11th ranked Irish, 28-6. The Wolfpack are 2.5 point favorites.
- Fast Starts: NC State has gotten off to fast starts at home. They’ve scored on their first possession in all three games. Ryan Finley is 10-12 for 155 yards in those drives. For an Irish defense that has struggled, quelling early momentum is a most.
- 3rd Down Success: It’s important for Notre Dame’s defense to get off the field on third down and they will certainly be challenged by the Wolfpack. NC State leads the ACC in 3rd conversions (2nd in the country)
- Red Zone Proficiency: NC State is efficient at scoring touchdowns when they get in the Red Zone. In 23 trips to the Red Zone, the Wolfpack have scored 19 touchdowns.
- Finley Fire: Redshirt Sophomore Ryan Finley has been more than anyone could have imagined. Finley hasn’t thrown an interception (116 attempts) and ranks 4th in the country in completion percentage.
- Dayes Light: Running Back Matthew Dayes averages 109.3 yards per game.
- At A Loss: NC State is 5th in the ACC and 20th in the country in Tackle for Losses
- Defensive Line: The Wolfpack come in with an experience defensive line against a Notre Dame team that has only given up 3 sacks none to a defensive lineman.
- Turnovers: NC State is tied for 15th in the Nation in Turnover Margin
- Stingy against the Rush: NC State is 13th in the country against the run
- Defensive Improvement: Each year under Coach Dave Doeren the defense has gotten better. They’ve ranked 68th, 61st, 46th, 29th and they are currently 21st.
How Does Saturday Shake Out
At 2-3, Notre Dame is in a must win situation against a 3-1 Wolfpack team. The Irish must prevent turning the ball over and score early and often. The Irish’s defense has yet to prove that it can be trusted so they could struggle against a Wolfpack team that has an efficient quarterback and solid running game.
Notre Dame’s defense’s ability to get off the field on third down could be the key. If they can force 3 and outs, Notre Dame’s offense could take advantage of short fields and they have proven they will put up points in that situation.
The Irish will also need to run the ball successfully if the defense is struggling. Keeping the defense off the field another plan of attack Kelly could look for. Last week, Josh Adams and Dexter Williams combined for 182 yards rushing versus Syracuse.
Win or lose, Notre Dame needs to show more improvement on defense especially after they fired Brian VanGorder. Just like most Notre Dame games expect a lot of points to be scored and for the game to come down to the 4th quarter.