- No. 2 Notre Dame travels to No. 25 North Carolina after Thanksgiving for a huge Week 13 matchup (ABC, 3:30 p.m. EST)
- Notre Dame QB Ian Book will be without two starting offensive linemen in a game that has high shootout potential
- Read below for odds, analysis and picks on the game
Notre Dame has made its case as a College Football Playoff team this season, but with the end of the regular season in sight, the Irish have to get another big win against North Carolina on Friday.
Both teams last played on November 14th, when Notre Dame covered as 13-point favorites at Boston College and North Carolina outlasted Wake Forest in an offensive slugfest.
The Tar Heels are going to need another huge week from quarterback Sam Howell and the offense if they want to play spoiler to the Irish at home. Both teams have gone over the point total in five of eight games this season, and this game is expected to be another high-flyer with the total set at 66.5.
#2 Notre Dame vs #19 North Carolina Odds
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||-5.5 (-110)||-215||O 66.5 (-106)|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||+5.5 (-110)||+172||U 66.5 (-114)|
Odds taken from FanDuel on Nov. 25th
Tough Luck Up Front for the Irish
Notre Dame has been one of the nation’s most complete teams this season, but will be without two of its starters on the offensive line against UNC. Sophomore center Jarrett Patterson underwent season-ending surgery on his foot following Notre Dame’s win against Boston College. Senior guard Tommy Kraemer will also miss this week after an appendectomy over the weekend.
For an offense that has been in such a groove recently, the news on those two couldn’t come at a worse time. Notre Dame has scored 45 points-or-more in three of its last four games and amassed nearly 2,000 total yards of offense during that stretch. North Carolina doesn’t have a particularly daunting defensive front, but keeping the Tar Heels offense off the field is going to be trickier with those two big pieces missing for Notre Dame.
North Carolina has given up no fewer than 177 rushing yards in each of its last three games, and has been underwhelming against the pass in its last four. Irish quarterback Ian Book hasn’t been a game breaker so much as a steady hand at the position this season, but UNC has allowed nine passing touchdowns over its last four games, four of which came in its last game against the Demon Deacons.
Not Just About the Quarterback Battle
Sure, Howell is top-ten in the country in completions, yards and efficiency, but have you seen his running backs? The Tar Heels’ top two at the position, Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, have combined for 1675 yards on the ground this season.
The duo has been special, but Notre Dame has been stingy against opposing ground attacks and hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rushing performance in its last five games.
My top performing players of WEEK 11
1-Matt Corral/Elijah Moore, @OleMissFB
2-Sam Howell, @TarHeelFootball
3-Jaelan Phillips, @CanesFootball
4-Ian Book, @NDFootball
5-Ty Fryfogle, @IndianaFootball
6-Zachary Carter, @GatorsFB pic.twitter.com/8im7qLeVwZ
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) November 16, 2020
Although they are shorthanded up front, the Irish have another key player in their backfield with running back Kyren Williams, who has 777 yards on the year. Williams left the game against BC with an injury, but is expected to play against UNC. Defensively, Notre Dame is a top-five defensive unit at stopping third down conversions, and has been as tough as any team in the country at stopping the run on early downs and obvious scenarios.
North Carolina has hit the over in each of its last four games, and will need the offense humming again in this one. Notre Dame played and won its biggest game of the season earlier in the month when it upset a Trevor Lawrence-less Clemson side, but this is easily UNC’s biggest matchup this year.
Brian Kelly is 10-2 overall as Irish head coach coming out of bye weeks, but just 5-7 against the spread.
Perhaps while on the road during a holiday week, he will simply want to leave Chapel Hill with the win, but the Tar Heels should be hyper-motivated against one of the country’s top teams with a turbo-powered offense. Notre Dame has looked a bit more vulnerable against the pass in recent games, and UNC should push the Irish to have to score on every possession.
The Pick: Over 66.5 (-106)
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