Neither NC State nor Notre Dame managed an offensive touchdown amidst torrential downpours from Hurricane Matthew, but regardless of the untenable conditions, the Wolfpack defense turned in a remarkable performance against one of the nation's top offenses, and Pharoah McKever's blocked punt gave the Pack all the points they would need as NC State celebrated the 50th anniversary of Carter-Finley Stadium with a 10-3 win over the Irish.
Let us shake off that pesky hangover with a greasy Bojangles' biscuit and relive State's step to two wins from bowl eligibility with the good, bad, and ugly from the victory over college football's third winningest program of all time.
- The weather. Notre Dame, much like UNC, which was pounded in the rain by Virginia Tech, looked unhappy to have to soil itself in the muck from the get-go. Wusses.
- The Irish came in averaging a robust 6.94 yards per play but, weather excuses be damned, averaged an anemic 1.8 yards per snap against an amp and hype Pack defense. Notre Dame came in averaging 39.8 points per game and left with a meager three spot.
- DeShone Kizer entered the contest with 14 touchdown passes and a sparkling 175 QB rating, the latter good for 9th in the nation, but appeared to be hurling a shotput on his way to a 9-for-26 performance. His longest completion went for a mere 11 yards and Jarius Morehead ended one of Notre Dame's best scoring opportunities with a pick.
- Kudos to the Pack's defensive line, which accounted for 4.5 of the team's five sacks. Bradley Chubb recorded a career-best three going against supposed NFL quality tackles. Of course Chubb is NFL quality in his own right. Kentavius Street, who is having a bit of a coming out party in his junior season, added 1.5, and linebacker Riley Nicholson got in on the act with half a sack.
- State has now out-sacked opponents 16-5 on the year; Chubb's up to five for the season and Street has 3.5.
- Overall the special teams were less than special, what with yet another missed field goal and an attempt that never even managed to become an attempt, but McKever's block places the unit squarely on the good side. That dude, despite his size and speed, has never managed to become a consistent contributor, but count on him to make one huge play per year.
- Matt Dayes is a mudder. Conditions be damned, Dayes ran for 126 yards on 23 carries, averaging an impressive 5.5 yards per tote despite everyone in the building keying on him in the less than opportune conditions. He added 14 yards on three catches for 140 total yards; that's 27 more than the Irish managed as a team.
- Dayes is up to 563 yards on the season as the 1,000-yard rusher watch marches on. By the way, the Pack outrushed the Irish 157-59 and have outrushed their opponents 989-455 on the year. That's better than +100 on the ground PER GAME.
- With it readily apparent that passing was simply not an option in the wind and rain, NC State leaned on its more athletic QB, Jalan McClendon, a bit in the second half. McClendon responded with 56 yards on 10 carries and completed both of his conservative tosses for 14 yards. The Pack probably won't play amidst the outer bands of a hurricane again this year, but, if so, McClendon perhaps should be the guy when ground and pound is in order. It's nice to have two competent signal callers at the ready in a season that started with so much uncertainty at the position.
- The weather. It most likely deprived us of the shootout we were all expecting. I'll get over it.
- The Pack probably could've put this one away early but lost a touchdown due to a silly penalty and subsequently derped a field goal attempt. A second trip to the red zone resulted in just three points. State outgained the Irish 75-7 in the first quarter but led just 3-0.
- It only seemed like there were a million flags this week; in fact, State was flagged just twice for 20 yards. However, the (questionable) unsportsmanlike call on Chubb could've led to Irish points in a game in which points were obviously hard to come by. Just don't even give the refs the option, man! (In his defense, Chubb did later record a sack in the drive to get Kizer and crew off schedule, and Morehead took care of business for good with the INT.)
- It was gross out there to be sure, but the Pack put it on the turf SIX times and lost two. No bueno. Still, State was +1 in turnover margin and Ryan Finley still hasn't thrown a pick.
- The weather. Duh. Oh, and the schedule. The schedule is ugly. At Clemson and at Louisville the next two weeks. Opportunity! Yessir, that's how I'm going to look at it between the little tiny cracks between the fingers that are going to cover my eyes.
- Speaking of opportunity: IF State had beaten ECU in a game in which it was statistically superior in nearly every aspect, the boys would be 5-0 and likely ranked. That loss will forever be an ugly mark no matter how the rest of the season unfolds. Alas, no sense crying over spilt milk as the impending win in Death Valley should take care of that not being ranked thing. Amirite?
NC State remains undefeated in its storied history against Notre Dame. 2-0, baby! One other college football program is also 2-0 against the Irish. Can you name that team?