Head coach Charlie Weis made a valid point in Tuesday's press conference. The Irish are playing a dangerous team in North Carolina—not really dangerous in that Notre Dame might lose, but dangerous in the fact that the Irish could be in for another ugly win if they don't show up on Saturday. An ugly win sure wouldn't impress the pollsters. But I don't see that happening on Saturday.
He's accurate in saying the Heels having nothing lose. They've lost many already, including their coaching staff, and it does make them dangerous in the fact that the lame duck coaching staff can, and likely will, take a lot of chances on Saturday. What do they have to lose after all?
But when one looks at Carolina, there's just nothing impressive about the Tar Heels. They average just a shade over 15 points per game. They're -14 in turnover margin. They complete just 50 percent of their passes. Their defense gives up an average of over 32 points per game. They have just 12 sacks and one interception on the year. There just isn't anything to be concerned about in this game.
Sure, the North Carolina defense might try and send the house against Brady Quinn, but why would the Irish even try to throw the football when the Tar Heels are ranked No. 115 in rush defense and have surrendered 27 touchdowns on the ground? That's over three rushing touchdowns per game. To give you an idea, the Irish have surrendered just six rushing touchdowns all year.
Like North Carolina, the Irish also have essentially nothing to lose as I doubt the Carolina offense can hurt the Irish even if they're not successful taking chances on defense on Saturday.
I expect to see the Irish swarm the quarterback, no matter which guy is in the game, because this is not an offense that should be able to gash Notre Dame for many mistakes.
I fully expect the Irish to pound the ball on North Carolina with their running game early, and then its bombs away for the knockout blow. I also expect the Irish to show no mercy on defense with the type of nasty Irish fans have started to see out this Irish defense recently. If you like defense, this might be one fun game to watch if you're an Irish fan.
The Irish are simply too good and the Tar Heels are simply that bad. North Carolina might be up for the game for a quarter, but I really don't think it will matter.
Mike Frank Prediction
Notre Dame: 45
North Carolina: 7
IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories
NFL Prospects Limited, UnlessCommensurate with the performance of Notre Dame’s defense, none of the draft eligible Irish prospects on that side of the football project as a first- or second-day draft candidate…
Insider Report: Davis rising; Hicks versatileThe Insider Report details how Avery Davis got his stride back and why new commit Elijah Hicks might be underrated, even as a Scout 300 prospect. We also address how Notre Dame’s…
Audio: Fighting Irish Preview"2-5 at the bye" inspires Fighting Irish Preview to poetry! And can the Irish become bowl eligible? Tim Prister has a prediction.
Status Reports: Irish Offensive LineThe third installment in our series of mid-season evaluations examines Notre Dame’s roster with a look at each individual’s status entering the bye week. Is he ascending? Has he…