North Carolina is 3-0, as the Tar Heels are off to a hot start thanks to an elite offense.

But with all due respect to Appalachian State, North Carolina has its toughest test coming up this weekend. Notre Dame (1-2) will travel to Kenan Stadium to play Saturday, as Carolina looks to get a marquee nonconference win before diving into ACC play.

The Irish are off to a shaky start, though they did look much better this past weekend during a victory over Cal. The Heels are coming off a bye week and are 2 weeks removed from a decent road win at Georgia State.

Here’s what to expect from Notre Dame and UNC this Saturday:

The Fighting Irish

Notre Dame is having quite the interesting year so far. The Fighting Irish started the season by putting up a pretty good fight against then-No. 2 Ohio State, losing 21-10 in a game that a lot of people figured would be much uglier.

And how did the Irish follow up that loss? By losing at home to Marshall. Marcus Freeman finally got his first win as head coach last week against Cal, as Notre Dame held on to win 24-17 at home.

Defensively, Notre Dame has been a bit of a mixed bag. Its passing defense has been good, allowing less than 200 yards per game. Its rushing defense has been pretty bad, sitting at No. 95 nationally with nearly 170 yards per game allowed. Marshall ran for 219 yards in South Bend, Ind.

On offense, the Irish certainly are a work in progress. Drew Pyne took over the reins at quarterback during the Marshall game, and he did some good and some bad against Cal. But overall, Notre Dame isn’t moving the ball super well. The Irish are 114th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total offense, and they’ve been pretty mediocre both passing and running.

While Notre Dame’s defense is its clear strength, it also will be missing 1 of its top defenders for the first half against UNC. Linebacker JD Bertrand, a captain, committed a targeting offense late against Cal and will miss the opening half.

The Tar Heels

There’s some good news it seems for Carolina heading into a marquee game against the Fighting Irish, as the Heels look to have some reinforcements coming. Josh Downs, the Heels’ top receiver, is expected to be back after missing the past 2 games. Antoine Green, another strong receiver, also could make his season debut.

That’ll be big for Carolina, which will be facing its toughest task as an offense this season. Drake Maye hasn’t really had a misstep yet, but the Tar Heels also haven’t faced a defense quite as good as Notre Dame’s.

It looks like the Irish are a little more susceptible when defending the run game, so it’ll also be a big week for freshman Omarion Hampton to really show what he has. He has been great so far, and a big game from him again could make a big difference against the Irish.

The other side of the ball has been the problem for the Heels, though. Notre Dame’s offense ranks in the 100s across the board, and North Carolina’s defense is right there, too. The Heels have given up yards on the ground and through the air, and it’s been Maye’s offense that has been winning them games.

The Prediction

When North Carolina has the ball, it will be strength vs. strength. Can Maye continue to lead the offense to great things, or will facing a truly tough defense in Notre Dame’s slow things down? That’ll be a half of the story.

When Notre Dame has the ball, it will be weakness vs. weakness. Is North Carolina’s defense just what Notre Dame needs to get its offense going, or will Carolina finally get some stops against a struggling offense? That’s the other half of the story.

The Fighting Irish opened the week as a slight favorite (though some books had it as a Pick ‘Em), but the line has shifted Carolina’s way. It should be a fun, close matchup between teams that are very different but fairly evenly matched.

Notre Dame 38, North Carolina 35