Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tar Heels Set for Showdown with Fighting Irish

Carolina steps out of conference for the third time this season when the Tar Heels host FBS independent Notre Dame Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Kenan Stadium. The meeting, which is the first in the series since 2014, is part of an ongoing arrangement between Notre Dame and the Atlantic Coast Conference which sees the Fighting Irish play five league opponents each season.

UNC dropped to 1-4 on the year with a 33-7 loss at Georgia Tech last weekend in Atlanta. The Tar Heels were held to a season-low 247 yards in the defeat. Sophomore Jordon Brown led Carolina in both rushing and receiving with 41 yards and a score on the ground and nine catches for a career-high 57 receiving yards.

Notre Dame rushed out to a 45-14 halftime lead and beat Miami (Ohio) 52-17 last Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish improved to 4-1 on the season and were led by Josh Adams' 159 rushing yards and three passing touchdowns from Brandon Wimbush. Saturday's game will be broadcast by ABC.

North Carolina and Notre Dame are meeting for the 20th time in a series that began in 1949. Notre Dame leads the series 17-2-0. Both Carolina victories occurred in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels scored a 12-7 decision in 1960 and beat the Fighting Irish 29-24 in 2008. The last meeting in the series was a memorable, high-scoring affair that saw Notre Dame hang on for a 50-43 victory. The 93 combined points were the most in the history of the series and the most combined points ever in a game at Notre Dame Stadium (built in 1930).

In the previous 19 meetings, Notre Dame has been ranked in 12 of those. The Irish was ranked No. 1 in the country in three of the previous meetings and in the top 10 on eight occasions. North Carolina faced Notre Dame every season from 1949 to 1956 and 12 times between 1949 and 1962. Saturday will be the third meeting since 2006.

In the most recent meeting in Chapel HIll in 2008, QB Cameron Sexton scored on a leaping 4-yard keeper to start the fourth quarter and Quan Sturdivant had the momentum-changing 32-yard interception return to help the No. 22 Tar Heels beat the Fighting Irish 29-24. Notre Dame reached the North Carolina 7-yard line in the final seconds before officials ruled - after a review - that receiver Michael Floyd fumbled the ball in what appeared to be a frantic attempted lateral. Trimane Goddard recovered, giving the ball back to North Carolina for a joyous kneel-down with 3 seconds left.