UNC vs Notre Dame: Preview, broadcast information, more

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 16: Brandon Wimbush /

UNC heads back home to face their second ranked opponent of the season in Notre Dame.

The Tar Heels head back home after a demoralizing loss to Georgia Tech last weekend, facing a ranked opponent in Notre Dame.

This is the second game against a ranked opponent for UNC this season, previously losing to Louisville in Week 2.

This meeting is the home half of the newest agreement that Notre Dame signed that made them one step closer to being an ACC member in football.

The first game in 2014 saw the Heels lose a close one in South Bend, 50-43.

Injuries may be the main theme to this game. The Tar Heels have lost over 15 players to season-ending injuries, many of which were starters.

For Notre Dame, they may be without starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who was seen in a walking boot.

The Tar Heels enter this matchup with a 1-4 record and really have no real direction for this season.

Redshirt freshman quarterback, Chazz Surratt, has proven to be the quarterback of the future for Carolina but the lack of talent around him and the depleted offensive line have halted his development and growth.

After averaging a 72.2 completion percentage through first three games, his last two games have been well below that average at 56.6 percent, including him throwing his first two interceptions of the season.

Notre Dame, who comes to Chapel Hill with a 4-1 record, is led by the one-two offensive punch of Wimbush and running back Josh Adams.

One week after facing a tough run defense with Georgia Tech, the Fighting Irish bring in another top 10 run defense into Chapel Hill.

UNC key to the game

Regardless of the status of Wimbush, the Tar Heels will be up against a tough test with the Irish run game.

There is no question that the Carolina run defense is an extreme weakness of this team, and a week after giving up 403 yards on the ground against the triple-option monster of Georgia Tech,  Notre Dame enters with the seventh-best rushing game in the country.

The Fighting Irish are averaging 301.4 rushing yards per game, and are averaging 7.1 yards per carry as a team.

For a defense that is already without two of their best run stoppers in Tyler Powell and Andre Smith, their 113th ranked run defense needs to find some way to stop the run game of Notre Dame.

If Wimbush doesn’t suit up, the Irish will rely on the ground game even more than usual, and could turn into another big day against the UNC defense.

Granted it is not known for a fact if Wimbish will sit out, and if he does play, he will just add to the running attack. The junior ranks second on the team with 402 rushing yards, and leads the Irish with eight rushing touchdowns.

If Carolina wants any chance of staying in this game, they need to slow down one of the best run games in the country.

Notre Dame key to the game

For the Irish, it is extremely important to slow down Surratt.

With not many playmakers on the outside for the Tar Heels, if Notre Dame can get pressure on Surratt and make him force plays, they could create a couple turnovers to start the game and put the Tar Heels away early.

So far this season, the Irish have capitalized on opponents’ turnovers, scoring 70 points off their opponents’ 11 turnovers.

Notre Dame just needs to play their game and avoid any major mistakes and they should be fine.

One question we’d like to see answered

Who will step up on the outside? With so many injuries to playmakers at wideout, which wide receiver will step up and provide the Tar Heels with a go-to option?

After Austin Proehl went down, we thought it would be Jordan Cunningham who would step up, but after just four catches in his last two games, he has yet to show the ability to be Surratt’s guy.

Anthony Ratliff-Williams looked like the guy after the Duke game (5 rec 125 yds 1 td), but he responded with a one catch performance against Georgia Tech.

For now, it looks like Brandon Fritts is the go-to guy for Surratt, as he has been the most “consistent” over the last two weeks, but his lack of explosiveness hinders Carolina’s offense.

So who will step in and be the guy to take over this offense and become a go-to guy for Surratt is something that all Carolina fans and coaches will look for this week.

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What you need to know

WHAT? Notre Dame 4-1  @ UNC 1-4 (0-3 ACC)
WHEN? Saturday, October 7th at 3:30 p.m. ET
WHERE? Kenan Field, Chapel Hill, NC.
RADIO? Tar Heel Sports Network. Jones Angell (play-by-play), Brian Simmons (analyst) and Lee Pace (sideline)
WEATHER?  Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 84F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph from Weather.com.
LINE? Notre Dame -14.5
ALL-TIME SERIES? Notre Dame leads the series 17-2.
PREDICTION? Notre Dame 35, UNC 14.