Notre Dame Football: North Carolina Preview
With a 5-0 start to the 2014 season, the path to the 4 team playoff is simple for the Irish: Don't look past the next game.
Upset weekend has come and gone and Notre Dame escaped with a tough win over rival Stanford.
The trend of "Everett Golson for the win" continued as he again played like the quarterback from the 2012 season and even provided some 'come back kid' heroics with a late touchdown pass to provide Notre Dame with it's 17-14 victory.
As Mike Mayock stated: "This year, with that kid at quarterback-anything is possible."
As it stands now, Notre Dame is on a clear path to a possible title run with games looming against Florida State, Arizona State and USC.
But before Notre Dame looks forward, it must look at Saturday's match as a potential stumbling block.
Enter the 16 point underdog North Carolina Tar Heels.
-Notre Dame leads the series with North Carolina 16-2
-Notre Dame first met North Carolina in Yankee Stadium on November 12th, 1949 and the top ranked Irish won 42-6 en route to the National Championship
-The Irish won the first ten meetings over the Tar Heels
-The Tar Heels are 0-11 when playing in Notre Dame Stadium and have only been able to defeat the Irish twice
-North Carolina is also 0-11 against Notre Dame when the Irish are the higher ranked team
-Over their 18 meetings, Notre Dame has outscored North Carolina by an average of 26.2 to 11.2 points
The 2-3 Tar Heels come into South Bend with a defense (125th in the nation) that should provide the Irish with ample oppurtunities to rack up yardage, produce big plays with receivers, open gaps for runningbacks and roll up the score.
But, 'Irish Wisdom' dictates that North Carolina will read their underdog game plans and seek to remove Notre Dame from playoff contention- and may keep the game closer then many expect.
To accomplish that feat, quarterback Marquis Williams will need to play like his counterpart Golson.
Currently, he leads the stable of runningbacks in rushing- which includes one-time Irish pledge Elijah Hood.
Hood has only 166 yards rushing on the year.
Notre Dame seek's to use this match to work out the offensive line kinks with the recent flips in positions of players like Steve Elmer. What was expected to be a bright spot for the Irish offense in 2014 has been but a shadow of hype.
The Irish are currently 80th in the nation, averaging a little over 150 yards a game.
North Carolina ranks 90th in the nation against the run.
This sets up perfectly for Notre Dame to revamp, tweek and launch a heralded group of backs into the limelight.
The vaunted passing attack accompanied with a great rushing attack would have propelled Notre Dame into the national conversation last week considering all the upsets and lack of a true overall 'team to beat'. Putting both together has been a project and at times it has kept the Irish from putting games away early.
But, when your throwing the ball around like Everett Golson has been doing- you don't need much more production overall.
This Saturday's weather in South Bend will be typical: sunny and 55 degrees.
Perfect setting for the unexpected.