N.C. State Wolfpack vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Date and Time: Saturday, October 28, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
Opening College Football Odds: Notre Dame -8.5
N.C. State vs. Notre Dame TV Coverage: NBC
It's entirely possible that 10-2 Notre Dame could at least have a leg to stand on when it comes to the CFP even with a loss in this game. The Golden Domers would have defeats to the Wolfpack and Georgia on their resume, and in order to finish with 10 wins, they'd have to have a win at Miami and one at Stanford to wrap up the regular season.
That said, it's easier to leave nothing up to chance at this point.
Notre Dame deserves a lot of credit for the way it has rebounded from that loss to Georgia. Not only has the team beaten Boston College, Michigan State, Miami Ohio, North Carolina and USC, but it has won each of those games by at least 20 points. The victory over MSU is looking better and better by the week, and any win that can be had over an ACC team is worth something with as strong as that conference is from top to bottom.
That's why the Wolfpack are now in the top 15 in America after a bye week.
This is where the rubber is going to meet the road for Dave Doeren's crew, though. Wins over Florida State and Louisville looked nice at the time, but both of those teams have floundered horribly throughout the season. Beating Notre Dame on the road and Clemson at home would put them right into the National Championship mix in a hurry.
The Wolfpack have gotten to this point in the season by featuring a balanced offense and a stout rush defense. Ryan Finley is the perfect operator for an offense that doesn't ask him to do a ton, and one of the best defensive lines in the nation does the rest.
Matchup to Watch
We love talking about the big boys in the trenches in this section, and this is a prime spot to do it again.
All three of Syracuse, Louisville and Florida State are based on their ground attacks this year. Take away the running games, and these teams are left with nothing. The three combined to run for 279 yards on 85 carries, an average of 3.28 yards per carry.
It's to the point that teams don't even really try to run the ball against the Wolfpack. Two weeks ago, another run-first Pittsburgh team threw the ball on 58.4 percent of its plays against NCSU.
The Fighting Irish have no choice but to commit to the run on Saturday afternoon. Brandon Wimbush still hasn't thrown for 1,000 yards this season heading into his eighth game of the year, and Notre Dame throws the ball on just 38.1 percent of its plays.
It's not that we know that Wimbush can't throw the ball; it's that we haven't seen him try. He's got a couple really good receivers in Alize Mack and Equanimeous St. Brown, but these two have only combined for 35 receptions this year, most of which have been of the incredibly short variety.
N.C. State vs. Notre Dame Free Picks
Notre Dame is overstated here by all of the college football sportsbooks at -8.5. The Wolfpack might not be quite as good as their ranking suggests, but they're capable of winning this game, beat Clemson next week and ultimately having a shot to play into the College Football Playoff.
Heading into South Bend isn't going to be intimidating for a team that should have won at Clemson last season and did win at Florida State this year before the Seminoles' season went up in smoke. We'll call for the upset and have the points as a safety net even if all else fails.
College Football ATS Pick: N.C. State +8.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: N.C. State 27, Notre Dame 20