Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 9, 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 40 of 55 OCT. 9, 2017 41 in scoring defense, allowing only 12.0 points per game. However, the Tar Heels' up-tempo spread caught the Irish off guard, and they rallied to the win after trail- ing 36-35 entering the fourth quarter. North Carolina quarterback Mar- quise Williams accounted for 435 yards of total offense (303 pass- ing and 132 rushing), while Notre Dame's Everett Golson totaled 371 (300 passing and 71 rushing), but also had three turnovers. The victory raised Notre Dame's all-time home record to 12-0 versus the Tar Heels. HOME WRECKER Dating back to last season, North Carolina has lost four straight in Ke- nan Stadium (opened in 1927), which often has been cited with Army West Point, Washington and the Rose Bowl as one of the most scenic venues to watch a college football game. The view for Tar Heels fans hasn't been pretty of late, beginning with the 28-21 loss to 5-6 North Carolina State squad in the 2016 home finale. This year they opened 0-3 at home with setbacks to California (35-30), Louisville (47-35) and Duke (27-17). Sound familiar? Last year Notre Dame started 1-3 as well in Sep- tember — capped by a home loss to Duke. Which brings us to … IS NORTH CAROLINA 2017 LIKE NOTRE DAME 2016? The signs seem to be there: • Like Brian Kelly at Notre Dame, head coach Larry Fedora has had a solid career at North Carolina with a five-year record of 40-25 entering this season, highlighted by an 11-3 mark and No. 15 final Associated Press ranking in 2015. However, 2017 has started off as "one of those years." • Defense has been a huge prob- lem in recent years. This past Febru- ary, 2015-16 defensive coordinator Gene Chizik — head coach of the 2010 national champion Auburn Ti- gers — left his post to "spend more time with family." Promoted to co- ordinator was John Papuchis, with Mike Ekeler hired from North Texas to now instruct the linebackers. • Like the Irish in 2016 (and the start of 2017), the Tar Heels have lost five straight one-possession games since last November. • Fedora's offenses have been pro- ductive, but this year it had to replace all the top playmakers from 2016, in- cluding quarterback Mitch Trubisky (the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft), running backs Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan, and dynamic wide receiver/return man Ryan Switzer, who caught 96 passes in 2016. • In addition to the aforemen- tioned stars, top wideout Austin Pro- ehl also suffered a season-ending in- jury versus Duke — making him the 13th Tar Heel this year who will be sidelined the balance of the season. North Carolina also will play a tri- ple-option team in Georgia Tech the week prior to facing the Irish. Recali- brating to play a more conventional offense the next week isn't always the easiest task on defense. There are some years where it seems you can't get out of your own way. Notre Dame went through it in 2016, and it seems North Carolina is experiencing it in 2017. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: NORTH CAROLINA Head coach Larry Fedora's Tar Heels have lost five consecutive one-possession games dating back to last November. PHOTO BY JEFFREY A. CAMARATI/COURTESY UNC Predictions Corey Bodden: Notre Dame 45, North Carolina 23 The Irish should keep their perfect 2017 mark on the road against a team that is having trouble stop- ping opposing offenses. Redshirt freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt will find some success passing before the Irish make adjustments en route to an easy win. Bryan Driskell: Notre Dame 45, North Carolina 20 North Carolina has quality athletes, especially at receiver and in the secondary, but Notre Dame will control both lines and put the Tar Heels away there. David McKinney: Notre Dame 37, North Carolina 17 North Carolina just hasn't looked good enough for one to believe it can score much on this Notre Dame defense. The Irish have been creating turnovers and will continue to do that against the Tar Heels. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 35, North Carolina 24 A third straight Irish road win by double digits might be a tall order, and this trip could be as danger- ous as the one to Virginia in 2015. However, Notre Dame seemed to have found its mojo on the road and overall.

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