College Football, Football, Writer - Josh Liddick

Notre Dame has tough road, but high rewards heading into next stretch

Throughout this college football season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have fought their way through the schedule and have pummeled many teams that they’ve encountered.

Except for Georgia in Week 2, where they lost 20-19 in one of the closest games of the year.

But besides that blemish, Notre Dame has been virtually unstoppable in every possible way.

Coming off a signature win over defending Rose Bowl Champion USC, where they were victorious, 49-14, Notre Dame has a seriously tough stretch to end the season.

In their next five games, Notre Dame takes on three ranked teams within the Top 25. But like other playoff hopeful teams, Notre Dame may just need to win out in order to make a run at playoff team.

Being an independent team and not part of a specific conference definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. Especially in terms of postseason hopes.

Notre Dame doesn’t have the luxury of playing in a conference championship game at season’s end, like some schools have in order to pad their qualifications of making it into the College Football Playoff.

That’s part of the main reason that the Big 12 re-instituted their Conference title game at the end of the year. For some reason, playing in 13 games instead of 12 looks a heck of a lot better on the good ‘ole resume.

But winning out for the Irish seems like a tall task, even though their only loss did come against another playoff hopeful team.

This weekend, Notre Dame hosts No. 14 NC State in South Bend, and in my personal opinion, this game seems like it’s going to be a trap game for Notre Dame.

While Notre Dame is still favored to win the ballgame, although the Wolfpack have also been on a little bit of a winning streak of their own, as they’ve won their last six games.

Two of those games have been wins over a ranked Florida State team, and Louisville, although those games don’t look nearly as impressive now.

NC State is 24th in the nation for passing yards per game with 290, and tied for 50th in rushing offense, averaging 177.4 yards per game on the ground.

Although their offense ranks high among teams in FBS, their defense isn’t as stout. NC State is 122nd in the nation for passing yards allowed per game, giving up 287 yards through the air.

They do have the sixth best rush-defense in FBS, which will do wonders against Notre Dame’s Josh Adams, who has been impressive to say the least, and has been making a mid-season push for Heisman candidacy.

With Josh Adams and the running play from the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame is able to win games. However, they’re going to hope that NC State’s rushing defense falters this week so they can utilize the rushing attack.

NC State hasn’t been good defending the pass this season, and while Notre Dame isn’t known for their passing game, they’ll need to go to it to the best of their ability in order to be successful.

Quarterback Brandon Wimbush has been very solid in the pocket this season, and he has proven to be reliable despite Notre Dame’s willingness to run the ball more often than not.

None of Wimbush’s targets have been that explosive this season, so maybe in order to get Adams more involved. they can use him more in the passing/receiving game. Adams only has nine receptions this season for 84 yards and hasn’t seen the endzone from Wimbush this season. I’m not sure if that’s because of a lack of passing plays involving the running back in Brian Kelly’s playbook or not.

Notre Dame just can’t be complacent in this matchup, because it very might well go in NC State’s favor on Saturday. NC State wants to win this game and advance in the rankings just as much as Notre Dame does the same.

And it’s very possible for NC State to win the game, given all of the circumstances and statistics.

With two more ranked games ahead, at Miami and at Stanford, Notre Dame beating NC State would be a good win against a surprisingly solid team heading into the next couple weeks.

 

 

 

 

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