The NC State-Notre Dame game is going to be fascinating for a number of reasons: y’know, theoretically there are playoff implications for both teams; this game does not impact the ACC race; this is NC State’s first-ever game in South Bend; and oh man is this ever a great witness to strength on strength.
Here’s the basics: Notre Dame is averaging over 300 yards rushing per game; Brian Kelly has completely remade the Irish offense to offset the team’s lack of a passing quarterback. The Irish passing game has been pretty bad, and that might be a kind interpretation. Notre Dame has no passing game to speak of.
So far it hasn’t really mattered since they’ve been able to leverage an offensive line that has been brilliant on run calls despite being average in passing situations.
If Notre Dame can stay ahead of the sticks with runs, that is what Notre Dame is going to do. When the Irish are forced into passing plays and their offensive line has to pass protect, things change dramatically. This is what you should be watching next weekend. Can the Irish dictate terms with their ground game against one of the country’s best run defenses?
If they can, then they most likely win. If they can’t, then ... well, who knows; the Irish defense has been really good against both the pass and the run. The Irish also haven’t seen an offense quite like State’s; certainly nothing so particular. This is gonna be a fascinating matchup.