NC State Wolfpack (6-1 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1 SU, 1-6 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Saturday, October 28th, 3:30 PM ET
Where: Notre Dame Stadium
By Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NC ST +7 / ND -7
Over/Under Total: 59.5
North Carolina State travels to Indiana to take on Notre Dame in a battle of 6-1 teams on Saturday afternoon in South Bend. The Wolfpack hold a 2-0 all time advantage against the Irish, including a 10-3 victory last season during a mid-October monsoon in Raleigh.
Entering this season no one gave NC State much of a chance when it came to competing for an ACC title, especially being part of the ACC Atlantic division with heavyweights Clemson, Florida State and Louisville ranked well ahead of them. Fast forward to now and the Wolfpack find themselves riding a six game winning streak, their longest since 2002, and sitting in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic with Clemson having lost to Syracuse and NC State getting upset wins against the Seminoles and Cardinals in the past month. They have been able to find that success thus far thanks to a balanced attack on both offense and defense, with head coach Dave Doeren leading the way from the sidelines and seeing his team finally hitting its stride in what is his fifth season with the Wolfpack.
Defensively their success starts up front with dominant senior end Bradley Chubb, who has already put up 6.5 sacks along with a 2nd in the nation 14 tackles for loss on the season thus far. While Chubb is not alone, linebacker Jerod Fernandez is again tops on the team in tackles after leading them last year, the senior lineman is the major reason why his team ranks 12th in the nation in scoring, 6th in run defense and has not allowed any player to rush for 100 yards in a game through their first seven games.
Chubb and the Wolfpack will certainly have their work cut out for them this weekend as they go up against the Notre Dame rushing attack that is averaging 317.9 yards per game. After another dominant performance this past weekend, Irish running back Josh Adams is finally getting the Heisman recognition he rightfully deserves and on the season has now rushed for 967 yards with 8 touchdowns while averaging a highly impressive 9.1 yards per carry. Though Adams is the clear focal point of the backfield, there is plenty of talent behind him with both Deon McIntosh and Dexter Williams having rushed for over 200 yards and four touchdowns apiece, and all three will be facing one of their toughest tests of the season in a Wolfpack front seven that hasnt allowed a running back to gain over 30 yards on the ground in their last three games.
The running game is not just limited to the running backs for the Irish, with quarterback Brandon Wimbush considerably more talented on the ground than through the air and on the season having rushed for over 500 yards and ten touchdowns while also passing for 903 yards and eight scores compared to just two interceptions. Though those numbers have certainly been good enough to get Irish to the 6-1 record they currently sit at, the unfortunate passing percentage of just 51.3% will need to be improved, especially considering that Notre Dames remaining schedule ranks as the 11th most difficult in country and including this weeks game against Wolfpack contains three teams ranked in the top 20 of the polls with matchups against Miami and Stanford both looming in November.
While the Irish may have to worry about their accuracy of their quarterback, the Wolfpack have no such concern with their signal caller Ryan Finley, who on the season has completed 69.4% of his passes and has currently gone 313 pass attempts without an interception, the second longest such streak in ACC history. Finley has ample offensive weapons at his disposal, with receivers Kelvin Harmon, Stephen Louis and Jakobi Meyers all consistent contributions, but it is the multi positional threats Jaylen Samuels and Nyheim Hines that really make the Wolfpack a difficult team to strategize for. Samuels was the team leader in reception for the past two seasons and remains the same this year as well with 54 catches for 453 yards and three touchdowns to go along with an additional 191 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground through their first seven games. The speedy junior Hines has been especially effective of late with five touchdowns in their last three games and for the season has rushed for 648 yards with six scores on the ground and one on special teams.
Dealing with the trio of Finley/Samuels/Hines will be no easy task for the Notre Dame coordinator Mike Elko to plan for and his defense will need to continue to play at the same high level that along with Josh Adams and Brian Kellys offseason personality lobotomy have helped catapult the team to their success so far this season. The Irish D has not allowed over 20 points in any game all year and with 17 takeaways has them tied for third in the nation in turnover margin at +10 and also led to a whopping 94 points off of turnovers.
This weekends matchup pits two teams that have found similar success thus far with equal win/loss records, strong defensive fronts and both ranked in the top ten in the nation in offensive efficiency. Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, when you start looking at the differences is when you notice why Notre Dame is likely the better choice this weekend. The Irish rank higher in defensive efficiency (7th for ND compared to 46th for NC State) and significantly better in special teams efficiency (ND-56th, NC ST-114th), thanks in large part to the Wolfpacks disastrous kicking game that only seems to be getting worse as the season moves forward. While some may (rightfully) point to an expected letdown for Notre Dame after their huge win against USC last weekend, an even bigger point could be made of NC State possibly looking ahead to next weeks ACC Atlantic showdown against Clemson that if they win would essentially lock them in as divisional champs and put them in position to be play for their first conference title since 1979. In all six of their victories Notre Dame has won by at least 20 points and by average of just over 28 points per game, and while I dont necessary think they will keep that streak of blowouts going this week against a strong Wolfpack squad, by games end I do expect Notre Dame to get the win and cover at home against NC State in a lower than the experts believe scoring game in South Bend.
Mike M’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Notre Dame -7 and UNDER 59.5 – Bet this game for FREE by taking advantage of a FAT 100% bonus up to $1000 at MyBookie! (Use Promo Code: PRDCT14)