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Sunday, June 16, 2024
The Observer

Observer sports staff predicts NC State vs. Notre Dame

Sam Hartman
Graduate student quarterback Sam Hartman prepares for the snap during Notre Dame’s 56-3 win over Tennessee State on Saturday.

José Sánchez Córdova, Assistant Managing Editor: This game will be all about the run game for both teams. NC State thrived on the ground against UConn. The Wolfpack racked up 209 yards and three touchdowns, and much of that production came from new transfer quarterback Brennan Armstrong. Notre Dame's defense will need to keep a close eye on him all game and force Armstrong to win this game with his arm, not his legs. I think they can do that. I also expect Notre Dame's talented stable of running backs to take advantage of an NC State defense that allowed 160 rushing yards against UConn. Sam Hartman will exorcise his Raleigh demons from a year ago and keep the Irish momentum going strong. Notre Dame 34, NC State 20.

Andrew McGuinness, Sports Editor: Let’s start with an obvious but much-needed quality-of-competition caveat. The Irish have beat up on two opponents they were never going to lose to, and while NC State wasn’t great in Week 1, it’s worth remembering that UConn wasn’t the typical punching bag they’ve been in years past. That being said, it feels like the Irish are flying high coming into this game. If Brennan Armstrong had better weapons around him, I would be a bit more worried. Even on the road, the Irish are clearly the superior team. The Wolfpack will hang around, but the Irish handle their first true road contest of 2023 without too much difficulty. Notre Dame 34, NC State 17.

J.J. Post, Associate Sports Editor: Notre Dame’s first game against a Power Five opponent, and one on the road at that, makes me suspect there could be some growing pains. The Irish have had some problems in Raleigh in the past (well, mainly one problem). I suspect at some point this could be the first game Notre Dame trails.

But ultimately an assertive Irish ground game sets the tone for a steady Notre Dame performance. The defense concedes their first two touchdowns of the season, but keeps things mostly tidy otherwise. The offense finds a rhythm through a steady, veteran showing from Hartman. Hype officially begins to build for Ohio State as the Irish clear their first serious roadblock of the campaign. Notre Dame 30, NC State 20.

Madeline Ladd, Associate Sports Editor: The Irish can finally put aside any questions regarding competition level this weekend against NC State. Their biggest offensive threat is graduate transfer quarterback Brennan Armstrong, so keeping him in the pocket and forcing him to look downfield will be vital to a Notre Dame win. Hartman and the offense will face a very good defense, but the running back corps of Estime, Price, Payne and Love will be a challenge for the NC State front four. The Irish offensive line will need to get things going early in this game and the young receiving corps must get separation to have success. Contributions from the Irish special teams are also necessary. I predict that Hartman throws his first interception of the year but adds three touchdowns passes. Estime breaks 100 yards and Benjamin Morrison returns an interception for a touchdown. Notre Dame 35, NC State 17.

Matthew Crow, Associate Sports Editor: Through two games, Notre Dame has not yet ceded a touchdown, but that’s almost certain to change against NC State. The Irish defense will face adversity for the first time all season after allowing two early Wolfpack scores, but will buckle down soon after and post another strong performance. Meanwhile, the Notre Dame offense will continue its hot start to the year by eclipsing 40 points for the third consecutive game. While the outcome will never be in real question, Notre Dame fans won’t be comfortable until a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Hartman puts the game out of reach. Notre Dame 45, NC State 24.

Tom Zwiller, Senior Sports Writer: Finally, we arrive at the game I have been waiting for all summer, where we finally find out what this Notre Dame team is. Navy and Tennessee State were excellent warm-ups, but now the Irish face a good opponent in a hostile environment. So far, the defense has yet to be genuinely challenged and has kept opposing offenses out of the end zone. The dual-threat quarterback Armstrong can cause some fits for the Notre Dame defense and will break that streak.

The offense has not faced much pressure either, and I look forward to seeing how the new offensive guards Pat Coogan and Rocco Spindler hold up. Hartman's experience against NC State will be invaluable and should give the Irish the edge they need to win on the road. NC State may have been caught looking ahead by a week when they faced UConn. This week, Notre Dame will get their best. Notre Dame 28, NC State 24.