Friday, October 27, 2017

Notre Dame encounters another Top 15 opponent in N.C. State

                                         Photo Credit: Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

After soundly defeating then-No. 11 USC 49-14 last week, the No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1) have no easy task this Saturday when the No. 14 North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-1, 4-0 ACC) come into Notre Dame Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC). With a win, Notre Dame will remain in the conversation for the College Football Playoff.

“Our mission from day one is to win a national championship. You guys are just catching up to us. Whatever's being said and has been said has been what our mission has been from day one,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. 

“We've been in the playoffs since we lost to Georgia. Every game is a playoff for us. Everybody is talking about getting to the playoffs. Every game we play is a playoff game. Our guys don't know it any other way. That's what we play for. We're an independent football team, and our mission is to graduate all of our players and play for a national championship. That's all we have. It's not really any different than it was yesterday or the day before or last week.”

North Carolina State has won its last six games, highlighted by two over ranked opponents— No. 12 Florida State and No. 17 Louisville. At No. 14 in the current AP Poll, it is the highest a Wolfpack team has been ranked since 2003 when Phillip Rivers played quarterback.

“I think I would have preferred that North Carolina State played a very physical game (last week) against Clemson maybe. In all seriousness, really for us it's more about our preparation. We know what we're going to get from North Carolina State. They've shown it. I think once you win six in a row, you've shown who you are as a football team. So we know what we're going to get there,” Kelly said.

“Maybe a little bit more creativity on offense, a couple of wrinkles here or there. But they're going to settle into who they are, just as they know we're going to settle into who we are. I think from our perspective, the break was great for us before the USC game. Having now played, I think both teams know what they're going to get regardless of whether there's a bye or not.”

Defensive end Bradley Chubb is the leader on defense for N.C. State as they look to slow the potent Notre Dame offense. Chubb was named ESPN’s midseason defensive player of the year as the senior has recorded 37 tackles, including 13 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks, so far this season.

Chubb will be challenged as Notre Dame’s All-American offensive lineman in Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson lines up on the side of the ball. The matchups could be a preview of future potential matchups in the NFL. 

North Carolina State will continue to attempt to find a way to slow down the two-heading monster of Notre Dame’s running game that includes quarterback Brandon Wimbush and running back Josh Adams. Wimbush has already tied Notre Dame’s single-season rushing touchdown record by a quarterback with ten.  

Following the Notre Dame victory over USC, Adams has started to garner attention from the national media in the Heisman Trophy conversation. With an average of 9.21 yards per carry, Adams is currently second in the FBS.

All-Time Series:

North Carolina State defeated Notre Dame in both previous contests between the two schools. The Wolfpack defeated the Irish last season by a score of 10-3 in a game that was played with Hurricane Matthew pouring down.