North Carolina at #6 Notre Dame, 3:30 PM, NBC
Even before the season started this game was one of the less winnable ones on the schedule. Now it's almost a foregone conclusion with any hope UNC has hanging on Notre Dame looking ahead and "hey why not?" Neither of those are great foundations to build one's hope for winning a game on. At some point good football needs to be part of the equation and UNC has had a pretty significant shortage of that through five games.
For UNC to have any chance in this game, the Tar Heels will need to be much improved in all three phases. On the offensive side that means finding the rushing attack which apparently didn't get back on the bus at Clemson. Hopefully the running game made the trip to South Bend. Freshman RB Elijah Hood originally committed to Notre Dame before flipping over to UNC. There is some extra incentive for Hood in this game, assuming he can get enough carries and the offensive lines create some semblance of holes for him to run through.
The other critical part of the running game is Marquise Williams who will draw plenty of attention from the Fighting Irish defense. Putting pressure on Williams can be a hit or miss proposition. If the defense is sufficiently scattered then Williams can find running lanes and churn out rushing yardage. And if the junior quarterback can hit a few early passes it will keep the defense honest and open things up even more. The problem for UNC here is Notre Dame isn't likely to give that many openings or if they do it will be too little, too late.
On the defensive side, Notre Dame isn't a great offense but Everett Golson's play at quarterback is going to be a handful. Golson, who was once a UNC commitment, has a knack for making plays both with this feet and arm. UNC's ability to contain Golson and get pressure on him will be severely tested in this game. Given the state of the secondary, UNC's best bet is pressuring the quarterback and banking on a mistake. Golson's mobility and passing acumen(64% completion rate, 34th nationally) will make that job very difficult.
The Tar Heels are going to need more things to go right in one game than has gone well all season to win on Saturday. UNC also has nothing to lose while Notre Dame is facing a huge game next weekend against Florida State which could make or break the Irish hope of getting into the College Football Playoff. Whatever the case, UNC will need any and everything to break right for a shot at upsetting the Irish in South Bend.
Notre Dame 38 UNC 21