The Tar Heels welcome the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to Kenan Stadium on Saturday afternoon in hope of ending the Irish’s 24-game regular season winning streak over ACC opponents. In the process, Carolina is seeking its first 4-0 start to a season since Mack Brown’s final season in Chapel Hill during his first stint. Let’s take a look at the keys to a Tar Heel victory this afternoon.
Win the Battle on the LOS
This has been the difference in the last two matchups between these teams and it will likely be the biggest determining factor again this season. The Tar Heel offensive line is off to a solid start to the season, but they will get their biggest test of the year today from the Notre Dame defensive front, which is one of the best at getting to the quarterback earlier this season. On the other side, the Tar Heel defensive front needs to break out and live up to the hype that they had in the preseason. The Notre Dame offensive line has had their own issues early on, especially in the run game and the Tar Heels need to be able to take advantage of that.
Limit the Penalties
The Tar Heels did a good job of limiting the penalties in Atlanta and they need to be disciplined once again on Saturday. Against Appalachian State, though, penalties were a major issue and played a large part in why the Mountaineers were able to get back into the game. In this game, the team needs to avoid those penalties, especially on 3rd down and make Notre Dame actually beat them.
Capitalize on Scoring Opportunities
This has been an issue for the Tar Heels in their last two matchups with the Irish and it can’t be one later today if the Tar Heels want to win. So far this season, they have converted every one of their redzone trips into a touchdown and that will need to carry over into tonight. Until this defense can prove that they are a unit that can be consistently trusted, the offense needs to be able to put up points and that means making the most of your scoring opportunities.