Don’t be surprised if Notre Dame is in the top four when the first set of College Football Playoff rankings comes out on Tuesday.
The No. 9 Irish eased away from No. 13 North Carolina State in the second half Saturday thanks to another stellar performance by running back Josh Adams.
Adams broke off a 77-yard run to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 35-13 in the third quarter. He finished with 202 rushing yards and his 27 carries were a career-high.
A week ago, Adams jumped into the Heisman conversation with a 191-yard, three-touchdown performance against USC. While Adams is proving to be one of the best running backs in the country, the Notre Dame offensive line deserves credit. NC State’s defensive line is one of the best in the country and the Notre Dame line consistently opened holes up front.
Quarterback Brandon Wimbush was once again efficient, even if he wasn’t spectacular. Wimbush was 10-of-19 passing for 104 yards and two scores. He’s now gone four games without throwing an interception.
Notre Dame (7-1) had a seven-point lead at halftime and extended it to 14 thanks to an interception returned for a touchdown by defensive back Julian Love on a play that can only be described as awkward. NC State’s entire offensive line didn’t move — thinking it caught Notre Dame offside with an early snap — and Ryan Finley ended up throwing his first interception in 340 passes.
Finley’s consistency was one of the biggest reasons NC State (5-2) jumped into the top 15 after a Week 1 loss to South Carolina. But the absence of running back Nyheim Hines was significant. Hines left the game in the first half with an apparent ankle injury and didn’t return. He had just two carries.
The Wolfpack’s run game suffered without him. NC State finished with 24 carries for 50 yards.
Thanks to losses by two top-six teams, Notre Dame will undoubtedly leap over both of them in Sunday’s AP poll and in Tuesday’s inaugural rankings. And, quite frankly, we think Notre Dame will be at No. 4 in that CFP set.
The Irish’s lone loss came by one to undefeated Georgia. Wins over NC State, USC and Michigan State are three very good victories and better wins than Alabama has produced so far this year.
With games against an undefeated Miami team and a Stanford that may be the class of the Pac-12, Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff math is pretty straightforward at this point. The playoff awaits if Notre Dame keeps on winning.
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