UNC Football vs. Notre Dame: Preview, info, prediction and more

The UNC football program will look to improve to 4-0 on the season as they host Notre Dame at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon.

After having a “bye week” this past weekend, the UNC football program returns to the field on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill.

As Mack Brown and the Tar Heels look to improve to 4-0 on the season, they’ll have to get past Marcus Freeman and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to do so. Although Notre Dame comes in with a 1-2 record, this is a team that is surely much better than its early season record.

Of course, they’ll be without starting quarterback Tyler Buchner, but don’t be fooled: this team still has a ton of talent. Coming off a victory over California, a victory over the Tar Heels is one that would be a huge momentum booster for the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame has essentially dominated North Carolina, as they’ve won 20 of the 21 matchups that are recognized by the NCAA. Remember, the Tar Heels’ 2008 victory was vacated, leaving the program with just one win over the Fighting Irish overall.

Will Saturday be a good day for the Tar Heels to pick up a win over the Fighting Irish for the first time since 1960?

Key to Victory for North Carolina

If we learned anything from Notre Dame’s win over California, expect the Fighting Irish to run the ball now than they did early on in the season.

In his first start, quarterback Drew Pyne threw the ball 23 times for an average of 6.5 yards per completion. Notre Dame ran the ball 41 times in that contest, as Audric Estime and Chris Tyree essentially split the carries and did a good job of gaining yards throughout the game.

The Tar Heels must stop the run in order to win this game.

Estime is a very tough runner that is very tough to bring down, so it will be important for North Carolina’s defense to get multiple defenders in on the action. If the Tar Heels can slow down the run, they’ll put the pressure on Pyne to make plays, especially downfield.

With two weeks to prepare, hopefully this is the week that the Tar Heels defense starts to progress in the right direction. It’s certain that Chizik and his staff made some adjustments that should help the defense improve moving forward.

Something to Watch For

The UNC football program is adding some reinforcements, as star wide receiver Josh Downs will return to the field for the first time since Week 0.

It will be interesting to see how much of an impact the junior standout has in his return. Will the Tar Heels look to ease him back into the fold, or is he fully healthy and will be able to make a major impact right away?

Either way you look at it, it’s great that Downs is back.

Drake Maye has done a great job of spreading the football around, but it’s certain that he, along with offensive coordinator Phil Longo, will be thrilled to have the team’s top weapon available. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if he returns and picks up right where he left off.

What You Need to Know

WHAT? North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0, 0-0 in ACC) vs. Notre Dame (1-2)
WHEN? Saturday, September 24, 2022, at 3:30 PM EST
WHERE? Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
RADIO? Tar Heels Sports Network
WEATHER? Partly cloudy, high of 75 degrees
LINE? UNC -1.5
LAST MEETING? Notre Dame defeated UNC 44-34 on October 30, 2021
ALL-TIME SERIES?  Notre Dame leads the series 20-1
PREDICTION? UNC 35, Notre Dame 21