UNC Football: Staff Picks Week 4: vs Notre Dame

Notre Dame defensive lineman Jayson Ademilola (57) celebrates a sack during the Notre Dame vs. California NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.Notre Dame Vs California
Notre Dame defensive lineman Jayson Ademilola (57) celebrates a sack during the Notre Dame vs. California NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.Notre Dame Vs California /

The UNC football team will host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a sold-out Kenan Stadium on Saturday.

After a much-needed bye week, the UNC football team will be back in action on Saturday.  In what was expected to be a matchup with a Top 10 team, the Tar Heels will host a Notre Dame team that comes in with a losing record.

While the Irish might not be as good as many expected, this game is still critical for Carolina.  If UNC can defend its home turf they will finish the non-conference season undefeated, be 4-0 for the first time since 1997, and likely find themselves in the AP Poll next week.

Can the Tar Heels take advantage of a vulnerable Notre Dame team and make a statement during this nationally televised game?  Find out what our staff thinks below!

Nick Delahanty

Notre Dame has dominated North Carolina over the years, but I do think that this will be the year that the Tar Heels beat the Fighting Irish for the first time since 1960.

With two weeks to prepare, the hope is that the defensive unit will return with some improvements. If they can slow down Notre Dame’s running attack, I really like their chances.

Offensively, Josh Downs returns, and that’s a huge boost to a unit that has been great early on this season. This is the type of game that, even though Notre Dame is 1-2, could serve as a signature game for the program, especially for young quarterback Drake Maye.

I’m going to put my faith in the defense that they can avoid allowing big plays, and I firmly believe that the offense will continue to click on all cylinders.

Prediction: North Carolina 35, Notre Dame 21

Isaac Schade

The North Carolina Tar Heels are back in action after an off week. UNC will host Notre
Dame who is in the process of working to turn their season around after starting 0-2.
Carolina QB Drake Maye will get at least one of his starting WRs back in Josh Downs
with the possibility of Antoine Green also returning to action.

The game will match an interesting combination of strength on strength (UNC O vs. ND
D) and weakness vs. weakness (UNC D vs. ND O). ND QB Drew Pyne will be making
just his third career start for the Irish and Gene Chizik’s defensive unit will have the
responsibility of making him uncomfortable.

The question is: “Is the Tar Heel defense up to the task?”  I’ll be keeping a close on Drake Maye and the offensive line to see if they are able to continue the work they’ve done in the first three games of the season when they level up to face a major opponent, albeit one off to a less-than-desirable start.

The Kenan Stadium crowd will be a factor in this one as the offense does just enough to
not only win but cover the 1.5-point spread.

Prediction: North Carolina 27, Notre Dame 24

Bryant Baucom

After a bye week and two road contests, the Tar Heels will return to Kenan Stadium on Saturday.  North Carolina will welcome the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who after beginning the season with a top ten ranking, have started 1-2.  The Fighting Irish have won the last four games against the Tar Heels and lead the all-time series 20-2.

Receiver Josh Downs is expected to play after missing the last two contests, giving the already dynamic UNC offense a boost.  With the Irish’s talented defense, all hands are on deck for the Carolina offense.

Once again, the biggest question mark will be the Tar Heel defense. If Gene Chizik and company were able to identify and correct issues during the bye week, then the defense should be able to provide some much-needed answers.

Although Notre Dame is trotting out a backup quarterback, I still expect a higher-scoring game than they have seen in the first three weeks.  For the first time since 1997, North Carolina will start the season with a 4-0 record.

Prediction: North Carolina 35, Notre Dame 31

Mark DeMott

I think it is pretty easy to figure out what this game is going to come down to.  We know North Carolina has had one of the nation’s best offenses thus far, and with their top two receivers likely returning the Heels should be able to put some points up.  Notre Dame’s defense will be the best UNC has faced thus far, but I would be surprised if the Irish completely shut down Drake Maye and company.

That brings us to the other side of the ball, where both teams have been awful to this point.  To illustrate this, realize that Notre Dame has only scored 48 total points this season, and UNC gave up 40 points in the fourth quarter alone at App State.  Even worse for the Irish offense, they will be without their starting quarterback due to injury.

If the UNC defense really has made some strides over the past two weeks, they will show it by containing a below-average Notre Dame offense.  We will learn a lot about how the ACC season might go this weekend, as the Heels could have a chance to make some serious noise in what looks like a wide-open conference if the defense can become average or better.

It’s hard to know what will actually happen on Saturday, but I’ll choose to be optimistic and predict the defense plays decent, and Drake Maye makes a national statement as UNC beats one of the nation’s biggest brands at home to move to 4-0 for the first time this century.

Prediction: North Carolina 35, Notre Dame 27

Aaron Conrad

When the schedules came out, I am pretty sure everyone circled this one on their calendar as a potential loss. However, since the start of the season, Notre Dame has had some head-scratching failures, particularly finishing all four quarters of a game. Now that we have the benefit of knowing that the Appalachian State win for the Tar Heels was a pretty strong win, on the road, I think we see this one differently.

The Tar Heels are coming off a week off and I hope they were able to fix some of the defensive issues or at least address the areas of weakness. This one is in Chapel Hill so that will hopefully give a slight advantage to the Tar Heels. I am still concerned with the defense but hate to ever bet against UNC.

Prediction: North Carolina 28, Notre Dame 24

Staff Standings

Isaac: 3-0

Bryant: 3-0

Mark: 3-0

Aaron: 3-0

Nick: 2-1

Next. . dark

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