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North Carolina pays a visit to South Bend, Indiana, as the homestand continues for No. 11 Notre Dame on Saturday night in the renewal of a series that dates back to 1949 and features 21 previous meetings. The Fighting Irish have dominated the Tar Heels historically, holding a 19-2 edge that includes a 31-17 win in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, last season. 

Notre Dame enters the game with some real momentum after a 31-16 home win against USC, while North Carolina hopes that this opportunity provides a better platform to launch into the second half of its season after a 4-3 start that falls well short of preseason expectations. Mack Brown's team is coming off of a bye and now stares down a concluding stretch that includes not only the Fighting Irish, but three ACC championship contenders in Wake Forest, Pitt and NC State.

The Fighting Irish still have an outside path to a third College Football Playoff appearance in four years, holding just one loss to Cincinnati on its resume. They'll need some help to move closer to the top four, but as the selection committee prepares to release its first set of rankings on Nov. 2, this is a great opportunity to make an impression on a primetime stage. 

Notre Dame vs. North Carolina: Need to know

Notre Dame star safety Kyle Hamilton will be out: The good news is that coach Brian Kelly does think that Hamilton will be able to return to action this season after sustaining a knee injury against USC. At the time, there was certainly a fear the All-American safety would be out for an extended period of time, but the team medical staff is hopeful the injury is not serious. However, Hamilton will miss Saturday night's game. It's not the ideal matchup for the defense to have its best pass defender out of the lineup facing Sam Howell and a passing attack that heavily features a breakout star like receiver Josh Downs. Containing the Tar Heels' passing attack will be a two-front battle: trying to get pressure on Howell with Isaiah Foskey and the defensive front while leaning on a pass defense that has already showed its depth beyond Hamilton with eight different players recording interceptions.  

Irish offense finally gets going: A new, up-tempo approach with quick passes from Jack Coan has helped Notre Dame's offense find a new life. These changes have helped address the issues presented by early-season struggles along the offensive line and propelled Kyren Williams to 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns in addition to 42 receiving yards on six catches against the Trojans. Williams is one of Notre Dame's best offensive players and the inability to establish the ground game has been the biggest frustration from the season's first half. To see the star sophomore take off against USC suggests more success to come for the offense. 

Sam Howell needs a bounce-back performance: After four straight 300-yard games, Howell has thrown for less than 225 yards in each of North Carolina's last two games with two touchdowns and one interception in each contest. There are many ways that Howell contributes within the offense, including double-digit rushing attempts in every game this season and two scores on the ground against Miami. However, more production through the air would be a welcome sign for the Tar Heels in the second half of the season. Howell started the year as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year and a Heisman Trophy candidate. He was thought to be among the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class. While the body of work for Howell in 2020 hasn't been bad, it falls short of those expectations. 

How to watch Notre Dame vs. North Carolina live

Date: Saturday, Oct. 30 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Notre Dame Stadium -- South Bend, Indiana
TV: NBC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Notre Dame vs. North Carolina prediction, picks

Featured Game | Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

I think there will be a lot of points here, with Howell and Downs finding success against a Notre Dame secondary that will be without its All-American safety. So if you want to make a play on the game, mine would be to take the over. But even in a shootout scenario, I think the better and more consistent team ends up winning the game by a touchdown. Prediction: Notre Dame (-3.5)

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