Tag Archives: North Carolina

It’s Time to Stop Playing Navy

-Kevin

Its time to take Navy off the schedule. There I said it. I have felt this way for a couple years now but after seeing the release of the first college football playoff rankings earlier tonight it finally sealed the deal for me. Before you start crying a foul, yes I know all about the history between Notre Dame and Navy. Yes I know that Navy made Notre Dame a training ground during World War Two and provided enough money to keep the university afloat. I know all about it. Its reiterated every single year when we play the Naval Academy. Ill always have a great deal of respect for the Naval Academy and what they did for Notre Dame to help it stay open in a time when many thought the school would close. But that was over 70 years ago. I know Notre Dame “owed” Navy for all their help but that debt has been paid back and than some.

Here is the thing. There is absolutely nothing gained by playing Navy anymore for Notre Dame nothing. Its actually a lose-lose situation for the Irish. As we saw tonight in the first college football playoff rankings, the selection committee was not kidding around about strength of schedule being a huge factor in who gets selected into the playoff and having Navy on the schedule is doing the Irish no favors. If Notre Dame wins, it means nothing for the season as everyone expects Notre Dame to beat Navy easily each and every season. If Notre Dame loses, its a crippling blow and in the new college football playoff system it would almost always knock Notre Dame out of the playoff picture immediately.

Now every season there are teams that are supposed to be good teams that end up not panning out which never does favors for Notre Dame. So far this season Stanford and North Carolina would easily fit the bill. Prior to the season every pundit in the country had Notre Dame’s schedule as one of the toughest in the nation. Now it looks to be the exact opposite with the Irish sitting at 6-1 but having zero wins over a top 25 win. But you can’t really blame Notre Dame for that as how other teams do is completely out of their control. Its part of college football. Perceived good teams turn out to be bad and teams that were viewed as awful turn out to be really good. However there is a huge difference between teams like Stanford, Michigan, and North Carolina and a team like Navy. The Stanford’s, Michigan’s, and North Carolina’s may have their down years or not live up to expectations that people had for them in the preseason but they normally end up bouncing back and being good teams. Take Stanford for instance. They have been very good the past few years and this season and while they have taken a step back this year, they will undoubtedly rebound in the next year or two and contend in the PAC-12. Teams like Navy however are never good and are not expected to ever be good. Sure they will pull an upset now and again or finish a season with more wins that predicted but in football terms, nobody ever views Navy as a “quality win”.

I completely understand the need to not play an entire schedule of top 25 teams. Its just not feasible or sensible to have your team run through the gauntlet. I understand the need to have “lesser teams” on the schedule. Every team does it. Its part of football. But in the new world of the College Football Playoff strength of schedule is a huge factor and there is going to be a new trend of teams adding tougher opponents in lieu of the normal “cupcakes”. Notre Dame has been known as one of those teams who doesn’t schedule FCS schools and rarely plays a full on “cupcake” team but Navy is about as close as you can get. Add in the factor of Navy’s style of play and the large amounts of injuries that it causes for their opponents defenses and there is absolutely no upside to playing Navy in the modern college football world. I’ll always be grateful for what the Naval Academy did to keep Notre Dame afloat. However whatever Notre Dame owed Navy for that gratitude has been paid back two fold. Its time to move on.

You can follow me on twitter @GoIrishGlory

The Down the Tunnel Radio Show – North Carolina Review

-Kevin

The Down the Tunnel radio show is back as we talked about Notre Dame’s win over North Carolina, talked about Everett Golson’s continuing turnover problems, and the defensive woes seen against the Tar Heels.

http://t.co/uW8w3zrGVU

Carolina on the Minds of the Irish – A Weekend Preview

-Kevin

Notre Dame looks to remain undefeated this weekend as the welcome the Tar Heels of North Carolina to South Bend Saturday in the second of four games against ACC opponents this season. Fresh off an excited comeback win over Stanford last weekend in the cold and rain, the Irish will look to avoid a letdown against a North Carolina team that has underperformed preseason expectations. North Carolina comes into the matchup with Notre Dame with a 2-3 record and having dropped their last three games by a combined score of 154 to 93 and allowing 70 points to East Carolina University. Meanwhile the Irish are 5-0 and are continuing to exceed the expectations that many people had for the 2014 Notre Dame Football team prior to the season, and that was before five Irish players were suspended for academic fraud. The main task for the Irish this weekend is to make sure they are not looking past this game to next week when Notre Dame travels to play top ranked Florida State in Tallahassee. While North Carolina has not played well this season, they do have weapons on offense and have the ability to score points. As most have come to know from past experiences, opposing teams that come to Notre Dame Stadium tend to play their best games of the season against the Irish and it will be key for Notre Dame to stay focused on the task at hand.

If there was ever a defense that a team would want to play the week before playing the number one team in the nation, North Carolina’s defensive unit would be at the top of the wish list. Simply put, North Carolina’s defense is just flat out bad. The Tar Heels rank 121st in the nation in scoring defense allowing an average of 42 points per game and rank 117th in total defense giving up an average of 505.8 yards per game. Everett Golson and the entire Notre Dame offense has to be salivating at their chance to carve up a defense that really has no strengths to speak of. The Tar Heels are 92nd nationally in rushing defense allowing 186.2 yards per game on the ground and 121st nationally in passing defense allowing 319.6 yards per game through the air. With the Irish offense struggling a bit last week against Stanford (the weather didn’t help either), this is the perfect matchup to get the Irish offense firing on all cylinders before the big game with FSU next weekend. Look for the Irish to turn to the running game early and often in an effort to get a rushing attack going early, something that Notre Dame has had trouble with all season long. The offensive line looked much better in the second half against Stanford last weekend and if they can build off of their success against a tough and physical Stanford front and replicate that this week, not only will the running backs have lanes to run through but Everett Golson will has plenty of time to stand in the pocket and make throws downfield. Notre Dame’s passing offense, which is averaging 276.6 yards per game and is ranked 36th nationally, is the most dangerous part of the Irish offense and I fully expect Golson to have plenty of time to throw and pick apart the Tar Heel defense.

Notre Dame’s defense has really been the surprise of the season so far. While it was know that the unit had a lot of pure talent, it was also seen to be a young an inexperienced unit that would have growing pains throughout the season. After last weeks performance against Stanford, it sure looks like the Notre Dame defense, which ranks 3rd nationally in scoring defense allowing only 12 points per game, has matured much faster than anyone could have expected and has shown to be one of the elite defenses in the country. Cole Luke has really stood out in relieve of suspended All American corner Keivarae Russell and young players like Andrew Trumbetti and Kolin Hill are thriving in Brian VanGorder’s defensive scheme that the players describe as “really fun”. The rejuvenated Irish defense will face their toughest challenge of the season going up against a North Carolina offense that is very capable of scoring points in bunches. The Tar Heels are 33rd nationally in scoring offense averaging 36 points per game and get most of the their offense by means of their passing attack. Quarterback Marquise Williams has show the ability to make big plays in the passing game and he also leads the Tar Heel’s offense in rushing. The outcome of this game is really going to depend on Notre Dame’s ability to contain North Carolina’s passing game. Like Notre Dame, North Carolina has had trouble running the ball this season, averaging 138.6 yards per game putting them 89th nationally. The Irish running defense has been outstanding all season long ranking 9th nationally allowing only 95.8 yards per game. So basically if North Carolina is going to try to run the football, they are going to have a very tough time moving the football against the Irish defense. We have all been waiting to see if the defense will relax a bit after gaining tons of confidence over the first 5 games of the season and if they don’t play their best, North Carolina will be able to throw the ball and put some points on the board. However if the defense comes out with the same intensity it has shown all season long it should be a long day for the Tar Heels.

The question for me this week is not whether Notre Dame will win this week but by how much they will win by. I do not see any excuse for Notre Dame to not score at least 40 points against this abysmal North Carolina defense and anything less than 40 points will be a disappointment in my mind. The bottom line is that Notre Dame has far to many playmakers on offense to score points at will. The North Carolina defense is so bad that I will be a bit disappointed if Notre Dame punts more than one time on Saturday. The main thing I will be watching for this weekend is the intensity level of the defense to see if they may be looking ahead a bit to Florida State. While the players have been saying all the right things, it has got to be difficult to not at least think about it throughout the week with the amount of attention the matchup is already receiving. Notre Dame should take control of this game early on and never look back. The defense plays well again but gives up some points later in the game after the offense has already provided a large lead. Notre Dame 51 North Carolina 20

Other Games Around the Country 

2 Auburn at 3 Mississippi State- After a big win against Texas A&M last weekend Mississippi State hopes to keep the momentum going as they welcome Auburn to town. While beating Texas A&M was a good win for the Bulldogs, the Aggies are not the same Aggies we are used to seeing. Their big win over South Carolina looks less impressive by the day and they were very close to losing to an unranked Arkansas team. The party ends this weekend in Starkville. Auburn 34 Mississippi State 24

3 Ole Miss at 14 Texas A&M- Speaking of Texas A&M, the Aggies will look to rebound this weekend after getting beat down by Mississippi State last week. Texas A&M has the ability to score bunches of points in a hurry and Ole Miss may still be riding a bit high after beating Alabama. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is always due to have a bad game or two and this weekend will be one of them. Texas A&M 31 Ole Miss 27

9 TCU at 5 Baylor- I rode with TCU last week against Oklahoma and it paid off. This week TCU travels to take on Baylor who has an outstanding offense yet again this season. However Baylor hasn’t played any team that is even close to respectable this season and TCU will be their first test of the season. Baylor’s offense didn’t look as good as it has been against a bad Texas team last week which doesn’t bode well going against a much much better TCU squad. TCU 28 Baylor 24

The Down The Tunnel Radio Show – North Carolina Edition

-Kevin

The Down the Tunnel radio show is back. This week we discussed the ongoing academic investigation, look back at the Irish’s comeback win against Stanford, and look ahead to North Carolina. We were also joined by Douglas Farmer from Blue and Gold Illustrated.

http://tobtr.com/s/6986267

A Look at the Series History with North Carolina

-Kevin

As Notre Dame continues to prepare for their matchup with the North Carolina Tar Heels this weekend, now is as good a time as any to look into some of the history between the Irish and the Tar Heels. Notre Dame leads the series with North Carolina 16-2 and Notre Dame’s .889 winning percentage against the Tar Heels is the third best in Notre Dame football history only behind Wabash and Illinois. Notre Dame first met North Carolina in Yankee Stadium on November 12th, 1949 and the top ranked Irish won 42-6 en route to the National Championship. The Irish won the first ten meetings over the Tar Heels before North Carolina finally defeated Notre Dame 12-7 in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina comes to South Bend with a tough task ahead and history is not on their side. The Tar Heels are 0-11 when playing in Notre Dame Stadium and have only been able to defeat the Irish on two occasions, 1960 and 2008, both of which took place in Chapel Hill.  North Carolina is also 0-11 against Notre Dame when the Irish are the higher ranked team which is the case yet again this weekend. Notre Dame’s defense has risen to the challenge against North Carolina throughout the series, holding the Tar Heels to single digits in 9 of the 18 meetings including three shutouts. The Irish offense has also played well against North Carolina throughout the series history. Over their 18 meetings Notre Dame has outscored North Carolina by an average of 26.2 to 11.2 points. With North Carolina’s defense being one of the worst in the country this season it is safe to assume that this trend will continue.

Notre Dame and North Carolina also have some more recent connections that go beyond their series history. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and was originally committed to North Carolina before he switched his commitment to Notre Dame. On the flip side, North Carolina running back Elijah Hood, who is the second leading rusher behind quarterback Marquise, was originally committed to Notre Dame in last years recruiting class before switching his commitment to the Tar Heels. North Carolina’s Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham earned his bachelors and masters degrees from Notre Dame and UNC sophomore Jon Heck is the son of Andy Heck, who was an All American at Notre Dame and played twelve seasons in the NFL. Notre Dame has had success recruiting in North Carolina in recent years and the Irish currently have  six players on the roster from North Carolina: Ben Council, Mathias Farley, Mark Harrell, Greer Martini, Romeo Okwara, and Kendall Moore (still suspended).