North Carolina head coach Mack Brown knows what to expect from Notre Dame.
The Irish are physical, and they wear inferior teams down defensively.
When the two teams met in Chapel Hill last season the Tar Heels were tied with the Irish 17-17 at halftime, but the Irish dominated the second half, winning 31-17. It was a strong North Carolina offense that was averaging 43.1 points and 563.4 yards of offense per game coming into that matchup.
“One thing Notre Dame did last year, they were the only team — a little bit in the fourth quarter with Texas A&M — those two were the two that absolutely beat us down. And physically beat us down," Brown noted. "We might have had a big run in the fourth quarter. Our defense hung in there. Offensively, against Notre Dame, we did not play well in the second half. And that was with one of the best offenses I’ve been around. They absolutely just physically beat us. It is what is. It’s just, as the kids say, facts. That was the only game last year I thought we had no chance to win the game with our offense.”
Brown wants to avoid that sort of second half when the two teams meet Saturday night at 7:30 PM inside Notre Dame Stadium.
The Tar Heels arrive with a potent offense that is averaging 36.9 points and 471.1 yards of offense per game. North Carolina is coming off a 45-42 victory over Miami.
North Carolina has lost both its road games this year.
This is the start of three straight games against ranked opponents. They play Wake Forest and Pittsburgh on Nov. 6 and 11. The Pitt game is on the road.
Brown is aware of how good the Irish are, pointing out that they have won 27 of their last 28 home games and the Irish have won 37 straight against unranked teams.
“They lost to Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago but they have an older team this year and they had an older team last year,” Brown said. “You think, ‘Wow, they are going to lose all these guys then they get the quarterback from Wisconsin. And they just reload. It’s still a really good-looking team with a lot of seniors and a lot of grad transfers.
"He’s done a tremendous job with that program for many, many years. And he’s been there a long time. It’s hard to stay in places for a long time. I know that for sure. Give Brian credit. It’ll be a real challenge there this weekend.”
Brown said the end of the season will test the team. The only game that they’re likely going to win is against Wofford. Every other game is losable.
“We could win the last five or lose four of them pretty easily,” Brown noted. “We’ll be underdogs in four of them. You could walk out of here and win nine games and make people who are disappointed in you really happy. We could come out of this thing really well or we could lose them all. That’s who you are. We have to keep building as a program because obviously, our goals have changed. We are trying to get our seniors to finish right and get them to a bowl game. We have to win two of these games to even get to a bowl. Our guys are fully aware of that.”
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