NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Connecticut

No. 10 Notre Dame is aiming for a 3-0 start and looking to continue its run of success against ACC opponents when the Fighting Irish heads to NC State Saturday. Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman has plenty of history playing against the Wolfpack defense during his time at Wake Forest.

The Fighting Irish have won 28 straight regular-season games against ACC opponents, a streak that dates back to 2017, and are 40-7 against ACC teams since their partnership began in 2014. One of those seven losses was at NC State in 2016, however. This time, the Wolfpack have their eyes on Hartman, who is 1-2 against NC State dating back to his days at Wake Forest. Both of those losses, including last season, came inside Carter-Finley Stadium. 

Hartman's play through two games has been solid, accounting for as many touchdowns (seven -- six passing, one rushing) as incompletions (33 of 40 passing). Notre Dame beat Navy and Tennessee State by a combined score of 98-6, and the quality of play on both sides has pushed the Fighting Irish up into the top 10 of the latest AP Top 25. NC State opened its season with a hard-fought 24-14 win at UConn, showing off its own transfer quarterback with Brennan Armstrong.

How to watch Notre Dame vs. NC State live

Date: Saturday, Sept. 9 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Carter-Finley Stadium -- Raleigh, North Carolina
TV: ABC | Live stream: fubo (Try for free) 

Notre Dame vs. NC State: Need to know

Notre Dame focused on ground game: While Hartman's arrival has brought heightened intrigue to what's in store for the passing attack, the offense still runs through its offensive line and the rushing attack. Running back Audric Estime drives the bus with a physicality and explosiveness that's already produced 211 yards and two touchdowns on just 29 carries. The Irish have also given the rest of that room some experience in the first two wins, with freshmen Gi'Bran Payne and Jeremiyah Love emerging as options to round out the rotation. There may have been a change in offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for boss Marcus Freeman, but he has retained the identity of winning at the line of scrimmage to power successful football. 

Quarterbacks meeting again in new places: Armstrong finished second among qualifying FBS quarterbacks in passing yards per game (404.5) back in 2021 while at Virginia, but he was not able to beat Wake Forest that season when it was led by Hartman. Armstrong even threw for 407 yards and two touchdowns in defeat, but Hartman won the duel by leading the offense on scoring drives in each of the Demon Deacons' first seven possessions in a 37-17 win. Now, the two graduate transfers will square off again in very different situations from that 2021 meeting. 

NC State has one of the ACC's best home-field advantages: Playing at NC State has been a challenge across multiple coaching tenures, but the results have pointed to Dave Doeren fostering what has become one of the biggest home edges in the conference. Since the beginning of the 2017 season, NC State has a 33-7 record in Carter-Finley Stadium, and at one point ran off a 16-game home winning streak from 2020-22 that tied the school record (set by Lou Holtz, 1972-75). The Wolfpack have also won 23 straight home games against nonconference opponents, a streak that dates back to 2013.     

Notre Dame vs. NC State prediction, picks

Odds via SportsLine consensus

Notre Dame's ability to control the game at the line of scrimmage is the difference in this matchup. NC State can use Armstrong to get hard yards, but he needs to find more explosive plays to keep up with the Fighting Irish on the scoreboard. I'm expecting the game to be competitive as NC State's defense will provide plenty of challenges for Hartman and Notre Dame's new offense. However, losing the line of scrimmage wears a team down over the course of four quarters, and I think it's close to a double-digit win for the Irish.  Pick: Notre Dame -7.5

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