Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 30, 2017

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

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32 OCT. 30, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY COREY BODDEN E ntering the 2017 season, North Carolina State was a team some college football prog- nosticators felt could be a dark horse in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. But with the likes of Florida State, Clemson and Louisville also in the division, the Wolfpack were typi- cally picked to finish third or fourth. Since a season-opening 35-28 loss to South Carolina, the Wolfpack has been on a roll with six straight wins. Among those victories are a 27-21 tri- umph over Florida State in Tallahas- see Sept. 23, and a 39-25 home win over Louisville and reigning Heis- man Trophy winner Lamar Jackson Oct. 5. The veteran Wolfpack defense, which ranked 24th in the country a year ago by allowing 352.8 yards per game, raised expectations for the program heading into the sea- son. Returning star senior defensive end Bradley Chubb led the way for a unit that ranked among the top 10 in rushing yards allowed per game (108.6) in 2016. While the overall yardage number is up to 378.3 in 2017, NC State re- mains a difficult team to run against, allowing just 91.3 yards per game this season, which again ranked seventh nationally through games played Oct. 14. NC State's defensive line received much of the adulation heading into the season thanks to Chubb and com- pany. Notre Dame will have to ac- count for Chubb, who has 6.5 sacks in seven games, each play to limit the impact the potential All-American could make. However, Chubb isn't the lone ca- pable defender on the unit. Three other members of the defensive front notched 20-plus tackles in the first seven contests — senior tackle B.J. Hill (24), junior end Darian Roseboro (22) and senior tackle Justin Jones (20). The trio also accounted for five sacks. "It's kind of been up and down," editor Matt Carter said of the NC State defen- sive line. "Justin Jones has probably been the most [consistent] in terms of making plays. B.J. Hill, it's hard to say with him because he's a nose tackle who takes a lot of pride in do- ing his job — which means a lot of times he's not getting noticed. "The other defensive end spot [op- posite Chubb] — Kentavius Street and Darian Roseboro have kind of platooned there. That's been the one position that probably could be per- forming better. Roseboro had a really good game against Pittsburgh his last time out. … Maybe he's starting to click a little bit. That end spot is the one spot that could be better right now." Fifth-year senior linebacker Jerod Fernandez, who leads the team in tackles with 56, roams the second level looking to clean up any running backs or quarterbacks that get past the Wolfpack front. When Oct. 28 hits and Notre Dame and NC State line up on the field, it will be a battle of strength on strength with the Irish rushing at- tack looking to penetrate a Wolfpack front that has seemed immovable at times. The winner of the matchup will likely leave Notre Dame Sta- dium the victor. "A lot is going to come down to the run game," Carter said. "Notre Dame is one of the best running teams in the country with quarterback Bran- don Wimbush and running back Josh Adams, and they have a good offen- sive line. "This is going to be a game that is played in the trenches with strength against strength. If NC State were to escape South Bend with a win, that would mean their strength beat Notre Dame's strength. That's prob- ably the way both teams would want it. "We'll see how that pans out, but I really think that's what it's going to come down to. Can NC State ne- gate the running game and force GAME PREVIEW: NORTH CAROLINA STATE Strength On Strength The Wolfpack's stingy rush defense will square off against Notre Dame's potent ground attack Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME VS. NC STATE Game Info Date: Oct. 28, 2017. Site: Notre Dame Stadium (77,622). Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET. Television: NBC. Radio: This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 129) and on Notre Dame's IMG affiliates. Series Facts: This will be the third meeting between Notre Dame and NC State. The Wolfpack hold a 2‑0 series lead. Head Coaches: NC State — Dave Doeren (31‑27, fifth season); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (65‑32, eighth season). Noting NC State: The Wolfpack won its first meeting with the Irish 28‑6 in the 2003 Toyota Gator Bowl, with current Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throwing for 228 yards and two touchdowns … The Wolfpack won 10‑3 in Raleigh last year in a game that was played in terrible conditions created by Hurricane Matthew … NC State will look to become the sixth team to win their first trip to Notre Dame Stadium in the Brian Kelly era, joining Tulsa (2010), South Florida (2011), Louisville (2014), Virginia Tech (2016) and Georgia (2017). Senior tackle Justin Jones helps anchor a North Carolina State rush defense (only 91.3 yards allowed per contest) that ranked seventh in the country through Oct. 14. PHOTO BY LARRY BLANKENSHIP

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