NC State got past UConn last week 24-14 in a result that left a bit to be desired. The Wolfpack are hoping to shake off those possible first week jitters with a strong #10 Notre Dame team coming to Raleigh. This will be as strong a test as the Pack are likely to face all season.
Notre Dame comes with a familiar face, however. Former Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman will be at the helm, making his third and final visit to Carter-Finley stadium. Whereas he currently stands at 0-2 in his career in games at NC State, this will be the strongest team he's had around him in his career. NC State will need to bottle up the potent Irish offense, as they are proficient both through the air and on the ground. If that wasn't challenging enough, Notre Dame has talent across the defensive side of the ball as well.
Now, Notre Dame may very well be every bit of their #10 ranking, or they might not. They beat Navy 42-3, and then Tennessee State 56-3. These lopsided performances are not replicable against Power 5 (sorry, Power 4) competition.
NC State has the talent to keep with Notre Dame, but can they sustain that for the whole game to pull out the victory? This will be a big test, and the highest ranked opponent NC State will have faced since #9 Clemson in 2021, and we all know what happened that time...
On to the panel's picks:
It's not totally clear what Notre Dame is after beating two pieces of meatloaf, but it certainly appears to be a complete football team. There are parts of this matchup I like for State, but I don't think it's enough. I expect a game that isn't a blowout but isn't ever really in doubt either.
I have a sneaky suspicion this game can get out of hand if the NC State offensive line isn't able to hold the Notre Dame defense at bay. Sam Hartman has never won in Carter-Finley, but he also hasn't brought in as talented a squad as he has with him now. They're going to test the Pack defense on the ground and through the air. The Pack will need to avoid the mental miscues that hampered them against UConn if they hope to keep this one close.
Sticking with my preseasonpick. State's defense figures out a way to stop the run and forces some turnovers as Hartman's House of Horrors reaches volume 3. Savion Jackson being back in the lineup is extremely beneficial. Will the offense be more aggressive?
So, what do y'all think? Add your comments below with your predictions!
And as always, Go Pack.