Coming off of a bye week, UNC will host Notre Dame at Kenan Memorial Stadium this Saturday. If the Tar Heels are going to beat the Irish, which is a rare occurrence, 2022 would be the year. These teams have matched up 20 times in their illustrious histories and UNC has only won two of them. When was the last UNC win? 2008, when the Heels conquered the Irish with Hakeem Nicks leading the charge. But this is the year the tides turn and they break their three-game losing streak to Notre Dame, let me tell you why.
Notre Dame Just Isn’t Very Good
After a valiant effort against third-ranked Ohio State in their season opener, people thought the Irish were back. It turns out, they weren’t. The next week they went on to lose to an unranked Marshall team, a bad start to the Marcus Freeman era. They don’t have a bad defense, only giving up more than 24 points once through three games. However, the offense is absolutely atrocious and that doesn’t bode well against this UNC team. If they had a defense good enough to stymie the Heels’ offense, it’d be a different story, but only the Georgia Bulldogs could accomplish that feat. The bottom line, you don’t beat UNC if you don’t put points on the board, and an offense averaging 18.3 ppg doesn’t scare me.
Drake Maye & UNC are Ready to Prove Themselves on the Big Stage
There should be no doubt that Drake Maye is a future NFL QB and Tar Heel great, but for some that isn’t the case. People want to see him do it against actual competition and it makes sense, but I assure you that he will. Sure, the schedule has been easy and the defense is suspect at best, but this offense can score on anybody. Going into the bye week, Maye was first in the nation in total yards with 1076. Now that everybody else has played their third game, Maye is ranked fourth, only 115 yards out of first. This kid is special and was made for the spotlight, he’s ready to play one of football’s most historic programs and prove himself. Oh yeah and Josh Downs COULD be back, which would make Maye even more suited to shine.
Keys to the Game For a UNC Victory
1. Strike Early.
As I said before, the Irish offense is absolutely horrific. I know the UNC defense may be equally as horrific, but Notre Dame isn’t built to play from behind. They are an old school run heavy team who struggles to air the ball out. Maye has to come out and lead scoring drives early to jump out to a lead. Put the pressure on Notre Dame to score, force them out of their offensive comfort zone, and come out with a win.
2. GET A COUPLE STOPS!
I have ZERO doubt that UNC will score the football against this good Notre Dame defense. However, the Irish will find ways to get SOME stops. Giving up 40 points this game isn’t going to cut it, the defense has to be competent. That’s why getting up early is a huge key, it will lead to bad decisions and hopefully some easy turnovers for the defense. Look, i’m not asking for much, just string together a couple stops PLEASE.
3. Establish the Run.
Of all the keys, this may be the most important one. Everybody knows the weakness of the Tar Heels, the defense. If they can’t figure it out as a unit, the best way to play is to keep them off the field. Establishing the run leads to longer time of possession and therefore keeps the defensive unit off the field. Get Omarion Hampton going early, put together long scoring drives and that should help some of the defensive woes.
Simply put, UNC is a better team than Notre Dame this year. They fought the Irish hard last year in South Bend with an overall worse team. This year, they can snap their 3 game losing streak against Notre Dame on their home turf in Kenan Stadium. This is a great spot for UNC, especially after getting an extra week to make adjustments and watch film on the bye. The Fighting Irish are one of the biggest brands in college football, but they are nothing to fear this year. Give me the Tar Heels to win this game 31-27.
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