Ian Book has been here before, and he does not want history to repeat itself. During his freshman season in 2017, Notre Dame entered their game against No. 7 Miami ranked No. 3 in the nation. While the Hurricanes were supposed to be tough, the Fighting Irish were supposed to win—but they did not.
Just like that, their national championship dreams came to an end that year.
The situation is a little different this time around. The College Football Playoff Committee just named Notre Dame the No. 2 team in the country, and this time, Book is the starting quarterback. As for their opponent, North Carolina, the Tar Heels are good but not as highly ranked as Miami was (UNC is No. 19).
This could be a trap game for the Fighting Irish, but it could just as easily be nothing more than a stepping stone on their journey to the playoffs.
Spread: Notre Dame -5.0
Moneyline: Notre Dame -195; North Carolina +155
*Odds via DraftKings.com
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Betting Preview
If Ian Book wanted to make one last-ditch effort to get into the Heisman conversation, this would be the game to do it in. While Notre Dame has a good defense, the North Carolina offense is simply one you hope to slow down as it is too potent to stop it altogether.
Sam Howell is a talented, veteran quarterback with better wide receivers, and he is going to know how to exploit the Notre Dame defense better than Uiagalelei.
Now, the Notre Dame defense did limit Clemson’s run game to just 34 yards, but the secondary got torched by DJ Uiagalelei for 400+ yards and a pair of touchdowns.
That means, to secure a win, the Fighting Irish are going to need Book to put up some big numbers—on the stat sheet and the scoreboard.
With one of the better offensive lines in the country and an excellent group of wide receivers and running backs, that should not be a problem. It helps, of course, that the Tar Heels defense is not very tough; they rarely force turnovers and allow over 30 points a game.
UNC Tar Heels Betting Preview
The Tar Heels came into the season with high expectations but struggled to get on track early on. Consequently, they lost two games they probably should have won. So, more than likely, they are out of the national championship and ACC title pictures.
But with how the offense has looked in the last two games, they could certainly play spoiler to a team with aspirations like Notre Dame.
Howell threw for close to 800 yards and nine touchdowns combined in his last two games… and not at the expense of the run game. Against Wake Forest, they ran for 192 yards, and that was after they gouged the Duke Blue Devils for 338 yards and five touchdowns in the previous week.
However, they may struggle to run the ball against Notre Dame’s run defense. Sam Howell will need to get on the same page with his wide receivers early in the game in order to open up their run game.
Notre Dame at UNC Betting Prediction
Notre Dame’s best defense in this game will be their offense, especially their run game. Why? Because Sam Howell cannot throw touchdowns if he is not on the field. North Carolina’s defense is averaging 151.9 yards a game, so, theoretically, it may not be easy. But the Tar Heels gave up 241 yards to Florida State, 210 to Virginia, and 260 to Virginia Tech.
So, the Fighting Irish will likely try to win this one on the ground where UNC is giving up just 75 yards a game. With the No. 14 rushing attack in the country, there is a good chance they will succeed. North Carolina will stay in the game because of their passing attack, but they will be hard-pressed to win this one. Notre Dame is a complete team while the Tar Heels have too many holes.
Take Notre Dame to win straight up and against the spread. Plus, if you feel like a one-game parlay thanks to these two offenses, you should also hit the over with no problem.