Weather Or Not: Irish start in doubt

Hurricane Matthew could alter Notre Dame’s start at N.C. State on Saturday, potentially moving the game back. Brian Kelly said there’s been no talk of a Friday kickoff, at least for now.

Notre Dame’s Saturday kickoff at N.C. State is set for 12:06 p.m.

Although the Irish might face the Wolfpack on Sunday morning or Saturday night. Maybe they’ll play some place other than Raleigh. Maybe the game will get moved to South Bend. With Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the southeastern United States, don’t rule anything out.

“Really everything is on the table right now,” said head coach Brian Kelly. “We've given them a window that we're available to play this game from (the current kickoff) until noon on Sunday. We feel like anything after noon on Sunday starts to encroach on our ability to prepare for Stanford.”

Notre Dame had conversations with N.C. State on Monday night on an operations level and had another conference call this afternoon, which included the ACC. It’s not clear what the drop dead time might be for moving or postponing the game, although N.C. State released a statement that it will continue to "monitor the potential conditions" and that "every effort" will be made to play the game as scheduled.

However, also on Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported that Friday night and Saturday morning weather conditions pose “severe impact that could lead to significant threat to life or property.”

The intensity of rain in central North Carolina is expected to intensify Friday afternoon and increase that evening into Saturday. The rain is expected to cease by Sunday, although flooding and power outages could be left in the hurricane’s wake.

Could the game move further inland to Charlotte? The Panthers play at home this weekend, but not until Monday night. Perhaps complicating that option is the fact North Carolina, Wake Forest and Duke all play home games this weekend as well. Would those games also need to move to Charlotte?  

Could Notre Dame and N.C. State engineer a game swap, moving this weekend’s game to South Bend and sending the Irish to Raleigh next season? That’s hard to imagine considering logistics and stadium construction, although it wouldn’t unbalance Notre Dame’s schedule in 2017. With the Shamrock Series on break, the Irish currently have seven home games and five road games scheduled for next year.

The most likely outcome would still seem to be the game going on as scheduled in adverse conditions. The current forecast projects a 100-percent chance of rain with 24 mile-per-hour winds in Raleigh on Saturday.

To Kelly, air moisture matters less than air movement.
“The field conditions we have been told should be, unless it's unplayable, we should be able to be fine relative to the field conditions,” Kelly said. “But we are very good at moving the ball and throwing the football in most conditions, unless the wind becomes at a point where the ball just can't be moved through the air. Then we get into formations that we already have in our system and we'll employ those.”

As you’ve probably read by now, Notre Dame’s loss at Clemson last October came in monsoon conditions when Hurricane Joaquin hit. Despite that deluge, DeShone Kizer passed for 321 yards and totaled three touchdowns in his first road start.

As for this year, Notre Dame will accommodate the next couple days as weather patterns develop and alternative plans can be set, even if they’re not ultimately enacted.

“There is quite a bit of flexibility,” Kelly said. “We feel like we've secured accommodations and flights and such to leave a big window of availability to play this game.” Top Stories