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Oregon State Beavers vs. Southern Cal Trojans Betting Odds Analysis, Prediction

The USC Trojans might have fire in their eyes as they try to bounce back after that debacle at Boston College a couple of weeks ago, but the Oregon State Beavers can be a tough foe ...

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College Football Week 5: Top 25 Upset Alert

With Week 5 quickly approaching, is there another slate of wild upsets in the cards? Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer predicts some of the more interesting matchups. 

Will a Top 25 team fall this weekend?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Syracuse Orange Betting Odds, Analysis, Prediction

The Syracuse Orange will look to rebound after being upset at home last week when they face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at MetLife Stadium in New York’s College Classic.

While the Orange will be playing on a neutral field, the New York area has been a home away from home for them, as they have covered the number in two previous games at MetLife and won two Pinstripe Bowl appearances at Yankee Stadium straight-up and against the spread

Point spread: The Fighting Irish opened as 13-point favorites at MetLife Stadium, but it was bet down to 9.5 points by Thursday, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The total was 49 points (line updates and matchup reports here).

Odds Shark computer prediction: 30.8-20.0 Fighting Irish

 

Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread

Notre Dame has gone 6-1 ATS in its last seven games off a bye week and will try to continue the team’s perfect season away from home as a double-digit favorite.

The Fighting Irish have looked impressive in all three games so far this year but fell short of covering the spread in a 30-14 win over the Purdue Boilermakers as 30-point favorites in their last game on September 13.

Notre Dame has outscored the opposition 109-31 in three games and will be playing on a neutral field for the second straight time after beating Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

 

Why the Syracuse Orange can cover the spread

Syracuse lost both of the previous games the school played at MetLife Stadium, against Penn State 23-17 in 2013 as eight-point underdogs and against USC 42-29 in 2012 as 24.5-point dogs, covering the spread both times.

The Orange may have even been looking ahead to this prime-time matchup with Notre Dame in losing to the Maryland Terrapins 34-20 at the Carrier Dome last Saturday. They were down to Maryland 31-13 at halftime and wasted a great team rushing effort, totaling 370 yards on the ground including 156 from quarterback Terrel Hunt and 138 from running back Prince-Tyson Gulley.

If Syracuse can run the ball like that again, improving to 4-0 ATS in four games against the Irish is realistic.

 

Smart Pick

This is the farthest the Irish have traveled in 2014, and the bye week may not have come at a great time for them. They were playing well heading into the bye, but that momentum may be stalled in this spot as a big favorite.

Notre Dame also has much bigger games ahead on its schedule, while Syracuse has been targeting this game since the school put together New York’s College Classic a few years ago. The Orange have also performed well as underdogs recently, going 3-1 ATS in their past four, so watch for them to be extra motivated to perform well in front of thousands of alumni.

 

Trends:

  • The total has gone UNDER in six of Notre Dame's last seven games
  • Syracuse is 4-1 SU in its last five games

 

Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-move updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Clemson Tigers: Odds, Analysis and Prediction

The North Carolina Tar Heels and Clemson Tigers both suffered tough losses last week, but each for different reasons as they meet in a key ACC matchup on Saturday.

The Tar Heels are coming off their first setback of the season, and it was a big one as they lost badly on the road to the East Carolina Pirates, 70-41.

North Carolina also fell to 0-3 against the spread while the Tigers have covered their past two but dropped a 23-17 decision on the road to the Florida State Seminoles in overtime last week.

 

Point Spread: The Tigers opened as 10-point favorites at Memorial Stadium, but the spread was bet to 14.5 points by Thursday.

Odds Shark Computer Prediction: Tigers 44.0, Tar Heels 31.7

 

Why the North Carolina Tar Heels Can Cover the Spread

The Tar Heels had high expectations for their play in the ACC this season, and those remain as they finally get a chance to prove themselves in their conference opener.

Even though they have struggled a bit in three nonconference games, the slate is wiped clean for league play and they can start competing for the ACC crown.

North Carolina is 5-1 against the spread in its last six conference games, with the only loss during that stretch coming against the Duke Blue Devils, 27-25, in its 2013 finale as a five-point home favorite.

The Tar Heels know what is at stake here and just need to keep this game within a couple of scores to cover the spread.

 

Why the Clemson Tigers Can Cover the Spread

Clemson has not faced North Carolina since 2011 but routed the Tar Heels 59-38 in that last meeting as a 9.5-point home favorite. The Tigers got off to an 8-0 start that year but have already dropped two games this season—none bigger than last week’s loss to Florida State.

Clemson dominated most of the game against the Seminoles but missed two field goals and turned the ball over late to miss out on a potential game-winning opportunity in the final minutes of regulation.

Still, true freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson played well under pressure and kept his team in the game until the end.

Watson is a future star and will have a short memory to help the Tigers bounce back in this spot. They have covered the spread in their last three games as home favorites.

 

Smart Pick

Who will have the worse hangover from last week’s performance?

That’s highly debatable, but Clemson is a fairly young team and should be able to rebound here. North Carolina was just on the road and got clobbered, so things will not get any easier in Death Valley.

The Tigers are the more talented team and will be a lot more confident playing at home. That may have even made the difference last week against Florida State.

The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings, so look for Clemson to take out frustrations from the loss to the Seminoles on the Tar Heels in an easy victory.

 

Trends:

  • North Carolina is 4-11 straight up in its last 15 games on the road.
  • Clemson is 4-1 SU in its last five games when playing at home against North Carolina.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Missouri Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks: Betting Odds, Analysis, Prediction

The South Carolina Gamecocks carry a three-game winning streak into this SEC matchup with the Missouri Tigers Saturday, but they have struggled to cover the spread recently.

The Gamecocks are just 1-3 against the spread (ATS) in their last four games following a 48-34 win against the Vanderbilt Commodores last week as 21.5-point road favorites.

 

Point spread: The Gamecocks opened as 5.5-point favorites at Williams-Brice Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The total was 61.5 points (Line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 38.6-28.5 Gamecocks

 

Why the Missouri Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers were playing well this season, unbeaten in their first three games, before suffering a surprising 31-27 setback at home to the Indiana Hoosiers last week in the final minute. Mizzou lost to Indiana as a 14.5-point favorite and had covered its previous two games easily, beating Toledo and Central Florida by a combined score of 87-34.

A costly pass interference penalty on a 4th-and-6 play kept the game-winning drive alive for the Hoosiers and spoiled a great performance from Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk, who threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns in the losing effort.

Still, Missouri has done well in SEC road games, going 6-1 ATS in the last seven. The Tigers are also 7-2-1 ATS in their past 10 games as road underdogs.

 

Why the South Carolina Gamecocks can cover the spread

Since losing 52-28 at home to the undefeated Texas A&M Aggies in the season opener for both teams August 28, South Carolina has played much better offensively, averaging nearly 40 points per game.

The issue for South Carolina this season has been the team’s defense, which has still surrendered an average of almost 31 points during the winning streak. The Gamecocks allowed Vandy to jump out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter last week before scoring 24 unanswered points to take control. Their defense did have an interception return for a TD and seems to play to the level of its opponent.

While South Carolina has dropped three of four ATS, the team had covered five of its previous six, so it’s just a matter of time before the Gamecocks turn it around.

 

Smart Pick

Outside of the season-opening loss to Texas A&M, South Carolina has played well when motivated. The Gamecocks showed their mettle in coming back at Vanderbilt and beat the Georgia Bulldogs as 6.5-point home underdogs in their last game at Williams-Brice Stadium.

They also defeated a good East Carolina team 33-23 back on September 6, and that non-cover looks a lot better now that the Pirates are 3-1 after a 70-41 rout of the North Carolina Tar Heels. South Carolina handed Mizzou its only regular-season loss last year 27-24 in overtime as a three-point road underdog.

The Tigers have been playing over their heads this season and finally got caught. Now, they will finally play their first SEC game of the year, and the Gamecocks should win by double digits.

 

Trends

  • Missouri is 6-1 straight up in its last seven games on the road.
  • The total has gone over in four of South Carolina's last five games.

 

Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates, and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State Seminoles vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack Betting Odds, Pick

Florida State is the defending national champion, but North Carolina State shouldn't have any fear of taking on the Seminoles, considering it has won two of the last four meetings and covered the spread in 11 of the last 13 matchups.

The Wolfpack will be big home dogs when they host FSU on Saturday afternoon in Raleigh.

 

Point spread: The Seminoles opened as 23-point favorites at Carter-Finley Stadium, but the spread was down to 18 points Thursday, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The total was 58.5 points (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 44.4-25.9 Seminoles

 

Why the Florida State Seminoles can cover the spread

The Seminoles survived a close encounter with Clemson last week without starting quarterback Jameis Winston, who served a one-game suspension for some more off-field antics. Backup QB Sean Maguire threw for 305 yards and one touchdown, a 74-yard connection with Rashad Greene that tied the score at 17-17 with six minutes to go.

The FSU defense did the rest, forcing a turnover and then stuffing the Tigers on 4th-and-1 in overtime, setting up the winning score from running back Karlos Williams. This week, the 'Noles figure to get Winston back, and that's good news for Florida State financial backers considering FSU is 16-0 straight up and 11-4-1 against the spread in games he's started.

 

Why the North Carolina State Wolfpack can cover the spread

North Carolina State is off to a 4-0 start in its second season under head coach Dave Doeren, already topping last year's win total of three. Sure, the schedule hasn't been too tough, but the last two victories have come convincingly—49-17 at South Florida, covering as field-goal favorites, and 42-0 over Presbyterian, covering at minus-40.

The Pack ran for 315 yards against the Bulls and 265 yards (on just 31 carries) against the Blue Hose. North Carolina State has also hit the 40-point mark three games in a row, so it might have enough on offense to keep this one close.

The Wolfpack have covered 11 of 13 matchups with FSU, so this spread shouldn’t scare them or their backers.

 

Smart Pick

As of this writing, Winston is expected to start this game, but with the way that guy and this program operate, things could change by Saturday. So this pick relies almost entirely upon his status. Last year, with Winston, Florida State jumped out to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter on North Carolina State.

And while that probably won't happen this time around, the 'Noles, who went 3-1 ATS as double-digit road chalk last year, are still the pick here, on the road, giving the points.

 

Trends

  • Florida State is 4-2 ATS in its last six games on the road.
  • North Carolina State is 11-2 ATS in its last 13 games vs. Florida State.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates and get the free odds-tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Buying or Selling Every Top 10 Team as Playoff Championship Contender

Eighty percent of the Top 10 teams in the country have played a major-conference opponent, and one of the two that hasn't has played Boise State, one of the best group-of-five teams.

To wit, most of them have had to show us something to earn their current ranking. They have proved themselves worthy of their spot, giving us reason to believe they are a national title contender.

But some Top 10 teams are more worthy of that belief than others. Whether it is due to who they have beaten, how they have looked or who they still have left to play, certain Top 10 teams have stocks worth buying, while others don't.

Keep that last point—who they still have left to play—in mind as you read through these verdicts. Four teams from the SEC West made this list, and two more (LSU and Mississippi State) were not far behind. Even Arkansas, the sole SEC West team outside the national Top 25, looks frisky enough to pull an upset or two.

Only one or maybe two teams from that group will advance.

Their stocks were adjusted accordingly.

 

Note: All ranking info refers to the Week 5 Associated Press Poll

Begin Slideshow

Florida State Football: How the Seminoles Can Avoid Another Upset in Raleigh

Jimbo Fisher is a proponent of the process; quick to point out that Florida State’s successes and setbacks have been equal partners in helping gradually shape the Seminoles into the top college football program in the country.

But while Fisher acknowledges that FSU’s 17-16 loss at North Carolina State in 2012 was a “wakeup call,” the fifth-year head coach also knows no matter how far his team has come since that embarrassing loss, a similar fate this weekend could be just as devastating.

So how can Fisher’s team avoid another upset in Raleigh, North Carolina, when the No. 1 Seminoles (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) and Wolfpack (4-0) play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET? 

Perhaps most important in making sure history doesn’t repeat itself is remembering why it happened in the first place. Just like two seasons ago, FSU will roll into Raleigh with a top-five ranking and a legitimate shot to compete for a national championship. But a loaded roster and favorable spot alongside the game’s elite teams aren’t the only ingredients in a winning recipe.

“It takes more than just showing up with the name of Florida State,” FSU running back Karlos Williams said in an interview with Seminoles.com. “You have to go out there and play good football and execute every single down. Even if a bad play happens, [you have to] process [and] move on and play the next play and we have to do that this week.” 

If Florida State’s players learned their name alone isn’t enough to avoid blowing a 16-0 halftime lead and any potential championship chances, then Fisher also learned how to be a better coach in the wake of that loss to the Wolfpack.

FSU is 24-1 since that defeat and hasn’t lost a conference game since. The talent level in Tallahassee has certainly increased in that span, but Fisher’s ability as a head coach has experienced its own upward trajectory as well.

“You learn how to find ways to affect them and get them back in that mode,” Fisher said Monday at his weekly press conference. “How to coach them better and make better adjustments or whatever needs to be done, whether they are adjustments, emotional adjustments. Maybe pulling a guy for a couple plays to get his bearings back. Whatever it may be, how to maybe change a call, change something you are doing. 

“To just keep self-evaluating everything and process all the different phases around you to be able to get out of it.”

Fisher and his staff didn’t make the necessary halftime tweaks and adjustments to give the Seminoles the best chance to hold on to a lead and win that ballgame two seasons ago.

But such issues haven’t existed since then—just look at last weekend’s triumph over Clemson for evidence of that notion. Fisher and his staff revamped their offensive and defensive game plans in the back-and-forth affair against the Tigers, and those halftime changes helped FSU secure what would turn out to be an overtime victory. Avoiding another upset at the hands of the Wolfpack could come down to Fisher drawing on that second-half success.

"It was very tough, very frustrating, very point blank, but I guess it was another thing that we had to go through to make us the team we are now," Fisher said about losing two the Wolfpack. "And I think that loss may have had a huge impact on what happened the other night."

 

Brandon Mellor is a Florida State writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of Seminoles.com. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Follow @BrandonMellor on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Charlie Strong Is Just What College Football Needs, but He Won't Last at Texas

Every college football program believes in its myths.

At Notre Dame, where it's about blending championships and godliness, five players expect to have a hearing next week in the team's most recent cheating scandal. At Michigan, where it's about winning in the tough, old-fashioned way, the tough, old-fashioned coach they brought in to replace the modern one is about to be fired.      

This is all to explain what is already starting to happen to Texas coach Charlie Strong, who is in just the first month of his first season on the job. It's already starting, and within a few weeks Strong will be in deep trouble. You can smell it coming.

The thing is, Strong is a great fit for the college football world, a compassionate disciplinarian, which makes him a great fit for society, too. At Texas, he is, and always was going to be, a bad fit.

As the NFL drowns in off-field scandals, we claim to want discipline in football. And on Tuesday, Strong kicked a player off his team for the ninth time since spring.

Two players charged with sexual assault were kicked off immediately, and Strong didn't have to see a tape of the incident. Most of the others, according to Horns Digest's Chip Brown, were kicked off for failed drug tests.

So Strong is doing things the right way. His problem, though, is that Texas isn't interested in the right way. It wants the Texas Way. At least, that's what Texas' big dollar power brokers want. They never wanted Strong in the first place, as he wasn't big enough or showy enough, and they still can't even believe the school had the nerve to hire him without their approval.

"(At the time) I was talking to a coach who I think is one of the top five coaches in the nation," billionaire Texas oilman Red McCombs told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd this month, specifying only that he wasn't talking about Nick Saban. "I think I had him at the 5-yard line. The next day, they announced they'd hired Coach Strong. Obviously, something happened...

"It fell out like I was disappointed in Coach Strong. I was disappointed in the decision being made."

Revisionist history. When Strong was hired in January, McCombs said on ESPN radio that Strong was better suited as a position coach, or maybe a coordinator.

The mix of 1) players being kicked out; 2) recruiting shortcomings of former coach Mack Brown; and 3) quarterback David Ash quitting football because he had suffered too many concussions has left the Longhorns at 1-2, including a 41-7 home loss to BYU.

It's going to get worse. This team is going to go 5-7, maybe a game better or a game worse. And the powerbrokers are already expecting improvement.

They expect winning now, while Strong is trying to rebuild a program from the ground up. He preaches what he calls his five core values, and has put them on signs in the football building. There were signs like that last year at Louisville, too.

Honesty. Treat Women with Respect. No Drugs. No Stealing. No Guns.

The player kicked off on Tuesday was offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle, and Horns Digest wrote that Estelle and Desmond Harrison came to Strong a few weeks ago and said they had substance abuse problems. The school, according to Horns Digest, wanted to kick Estelle and Harrison out. But Strong talked officials into allowing them to keep their scholarships, go to rehab, go to class, and not practice or play football. If they followed the rules for six weeks, they could be reinstated on the team.

Estelle, according to the publication, did not follow the rules. So he's out.

Strong is sending his message. It's a message about doing things right, developing as young men, going to class. It's developing as men, and then winning from that core.

Sure, he's not perfect. He's not a myth. But he appears to be just what we need.

And yet, even if there is no outcry about him yet, it's coming. Soon. Believe me. ESPN already did an Outside the Lines on Wednesday on the criticism surrounding him. Analyst Danny Kanell, the former Florida State and NFL quarterback, said he's "concerned that Charlie Strong is losing that locker room" that his "my way or the highway approach" is not working.

Kanell is wrong. Strong isn't losing the locker room; he's building one. He is laying down laws and showing compassion and strength at the same time. And he has a record of success.

Strong is working to change the locker room culture, but that's not the culture that's going to defeat him.

Mack Brown did not leave the program in the best of shape. He rebuilt it, got Texas back into the national elite, won a national title and lost another one in the championship game. He told me last year that after that loss, he dropped into a funk. He admitted to making mistakes in recruiting and coaching. Strong has to pay for that now.

Any reasonable person can see that. But Brown built that program partly through his coaching, but partly by being the world's greatest PR man, masterfully bringing together all the powerbroker forces through his personality.

Strong doesn't have that personality. He might not have a personality at all. When he was hired in January, he sat on his hands and mumbled during the press conference. The Texas Way wanted a splashy announcement.

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Strong isn't splashy. Unlike Mack Brown, he doesn't seem like one of them. And I hope race isn't involved in that, but as ESPN has pointed out, he is the first black head coach Texas has ever hired for a men's sport.

Whatever it is, he doesn't fit. His resume said Louisville on it. He's not Saban or Gruden or Mora. The power boys undermined Brown in the first place, publicly pressuring him to leave while dropping Saban's name.

The power boys thought that all the money in the world could make everything right in 30 seconds. Apparently, Saban didn't think so.

But they wanted the myth.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report. He also writes for The New York Times and was formerly a scribe for FoxSports.com and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football: Why Wolverines Need Blake Countess, Secondary More Than Ever

Blake Countess accepted responsibility this past season, during the offseason and during camp. And on Monday, the redshirt junior continued owning the mistakes of Michigan’s secondary, some of which he's committed over the years.

The 5’10”, 180-pound defensive back isn't satisfied about recent events. He believes that he's part of a special position group, and he believes that the group can and will deliver when push comes to shove. 

“No doubt about it," Countess said. "We’re a group that’s growing, just like the rest of the team. We definitely have the talent do it; it’s just about getting better every week and proving it [on the field]. But absolutely—my confidence in my secondary has not waivered at all.”

With growing uncertainty on offense—particularly how it’ll accumulate points and who will be the quarterback—the Wolverines secondary must provide better pass coverage to complement coordinator Greg Mattison’s superb run-grinding defense. Giving up any kind of points, even a single touchdown pass, could result in another loss. 

Countess and his counterparts are the ones who have to tighten their belts. 

 

Stories with Numbers

In 2013, Michigan had the No. 13-ranked total defense in FBS football. It allowed 28 offensive touchdowns and 4.93 total yards per play—or about a half-yard more than Michigan State’s defense, which was widely recognized as the best in the nation.

Part of the Wolverines’ success on defense was due to their secondary, which finished No. 2 in the Big Ten with 17 interceptions. However, they gave up 40 or more points thrice a year ago, and they could do the same in 2014. But the key theme here is consistency: The defense has it, despite hiccups. It showed that in 2013, and if Team 135 is to truly reclaim its stake in the Big Ten, it’ll have to do so during the eight remaining games of 2014—starting Saturday against Minnesota. 

Look at the numbers thus far: Michigan gives up 4.12 yards per play. That's padded by the three-game stretch of allowing 1.83 per rushing attempt. But it’s still among the lowest averages in all of college football. Considering that Mattison’s defense has seen 248 plays, nearly 50 more than No. 1-ranked (total D) Stanford, the numbers shine through a little more.

Forget opponents and the fact that Michigan’s four games into the season. The stats are the stats. Take them for what they’re worth. This defense is producing with a secondary that’s contributed two interceptions on the year.

Imagine what a slight increase would do for the overall flow. With an ounce or two more effort from Countess and the rest, the likelihood of winning would increase. College football has shown us enough teams to win league titles and bowl games with very little offense.

Who’s to say the 2014 Wolverines can’t be one of those teams?  

 

Overcoming Hurdles

The Wolverines have yet to get a full dose of Jabrill Peppers, a 6’1”, 205-pound super frosh who’s supposed to be the next greatest thing in life. He will be when he’s fully restored. Since getting dinged on the ankle in Week 1 versus Appalachian State, Peppers has seen limited action in limited roles.

He hasn’t wowed anyone yet.

The former 5-star “ATH” was one of the apples of the 2014 recruiting class. But he’s still a true freshman. He’s started games, so that says something. Mattison has propped Peppers numerous times. He likes what he sees in the Jersey kid. That endorsement means something, too.

It's safe to assume that the secondary will be better once Peppers gets on track. 

Raymon Taylor and Jarrod Wilson have had injuries, too. The losses can't be blamed on the bruises of a few, but they're not helping the situation. 

 

Progression

The defensive backs are a strength of this team. Well, maybe saying “will be” is more accurate. Nevertheless, there aren’t many reasons not to like what Michigan has at corner and safety: Channing Stribling, Taylor, Dymonte Thomas, Jeremy Clark and Reon Dawson, to name a few, give Michigan incredible depth at the position.

Improvement has been a real thing, not a concocted story sewn by coaches and relayed by media types. Wins will be more frequent when the defensive backfield gets it together.

But right now, losing is losing. No one is saying otherwise. However, there are some positives, and Jourdan Lewis is one of them. His play on Utah running back Bubba Poole saved his school a ton of embarrassment. Imagine the endless chatter about Michigan surrendering a 90-yard touchdown, at home, to a nonconference opponent.

The jokes would be plentiful. 

But Lewis didn’t let that happen. He came from out of nowhere before stopping Poole about 25 yards shy of the end zone. Effort is there. Players aren’t calling it quits. Lewis’ play was proof, and it certainly serves as a battle cry for the DBs.

“Absolutely,” Countess said, adding that the play would “go down in history” at Michigan. “The big play happened because of a miscommunication. But the good thing about that play was that we have guys that are getting to the ball. Jourdan came as a back-side corner and ran that guy down and saved a touchdown.

"They only got three points out of that drive. When we get that miscommunication corrected, then that big play won’t happen.”

Michigan doesn’t have time to live and learn. At this point, it’s win or cease to exist in the big-boy landscape. The Wolverines have split their first four this season and barely hang by a thread. They need their secondary to make a donation.

They need Countess, who has slipped more times than he should have thus far, to be the all-conference corner he's capable of being. He was on the Jim Thorpe preseason watch list. He's not an Average Joe corner. 

They need them now, or they'll risk wasting the best team coach Brady Hoke's had in Ann Arbor. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Betting Odds, Analysis, Prediction

The Ohio State Buckeyes have enjoyed success at home after their bye week in the past and will try to continue that trend on Saturday when they host the Cincinnati Bearcats.

The Buckeyes have won six straight games off a bye, including all three since head coach Urban Meyer took over the program, to go along with a 4-2 mark against the spread.

 

Point spread: The Buckeyes opened as 12.5-point favorites at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark, but the number climbed to 16 points by Thursday. The total was 63.5 (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 35.1-17.5 Buckeyes

 

Why the Cincinnati Bearcats can cover the spread

The Bearcats have played just two games so far this season, making it difficult to tell which team is the one that will be facing Ohio State. In a 58-34 rout of the Toledo Rockets in their season opener on September 12, quarterback Gunner Kiel completed 25 of 37 passes for 418 yards and threw a school record-tying six touchdown passes in his first college start to help the Bearcats cover the spread as 9.5-point favorites.

The transfer from Notre Dame who sat out last season threw four more touchdown passes last week in a 31-24 win over Miami (Ohio), but Cincinnati failed to cover as a 30-point favorite. The Bearcats have performed well recently as road underdogs, going 3-0 ATS in their past three.

 

Why the Ohio State Buckeyes can cover the spread

In addition to playing well at home off a bye, Ohio State picked up some momentum following a 35-21 loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies by blanking the Kent State Golden Flashes 66-0 on September 13 as a 31-point favorite.

The Buckeyes saw redshirt freshman QB J.T. Barrett tie a school record with six TDs, including five in the first half when they built a commanding 45-0 lead. Ohio State’s Meyer will no doubt have his team prepared for Cincinnati, as he reportedly gave his players only two days off so they could practice as much as possible leading up to this game and avoid another possible letdown with Big Ten play on deck.

 

Smart Pick

The Buckeyes are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games and do not seem to be the same team without injured QB Braxton Miller under center. While Barrett has put up some good numbers, you could argue Kiel is the more talented signal-caller as he was highly recruited coming out of high school.

Both QBs remain inexperienced at the college level, and that showed for Barrett in the loss to Virginia Tech when he threw three interceptions. Kiel threw two picks in his last game against Miami, but they did not cost his team the game.

Ohio State still has a lot to prove to be favored by this many points against a quality opponent like the Bearcats, who should keep this within the number.

 

Trends:

  • Cincinnati is 3-0 ATS in its last three games as road underdog
  • Ohio State is 22-3 SU in its last 25 games

 

Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line move updates, and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Extra Points with Barrett Sallee: Dillon Day Justly Suspended, Medicore East

Getting It Right

After trouncing LSU 34-29 in Death Valley on Saturday night in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated, Mississippi State was the talk of the college football world for all the right reasons—and all the wrong reasons.

Center Dillon Day was suspended for one game for what the SEC phrased in an emailed release as "multiple flagrant and unsportsmanlike acts during the [LSU] game, as well as previous disciplinary action for similar behavior."

Day stomped on two players in the LSU game, both of which caused play to be stopped.

He issued an apology Monday afternoon on Twitter.

The SEC clearly didn't believe Day's "apology," nor should it have.

Day has a track record with similar dirty play. He was suspended for a half last year for stomping on an Auburn player, according to Michael Bonner of the The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi), and the two incidents on Saturday were clearly intentional with the intent to injure.

Had Day not wanted to step on opposing players, he would have twisted, rolled, or moved to avoid the contact. Yes, he's a 299-pound offensive lineman, but he's a 299-pound offensive lineman who not only earned an FBS scholarship but starts in the SEC. It's not like he's a statue.

Let's be real, similar incidents happen during football games all the time. Typically, though, they happen in piles and in the trenches, out of the view of television cameras. When they happen out in the open, though, the conference has no choice but to crack down to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

 

Will the Real SEC East Contender Please Stand Up?

After Week 1, it was Georgia that looked like it wanted to step up to the big-boy table and contend with the SEC West powers. Two weeks later, South Carolina topped the Bulldogs and announced themselves as "back." That same week, Missouri cruised to a 3-0 record only to fall to—gasp—Indiana the following week.

The SEC East is looking like a division where the team that wants to lose least will play in the Georgia Dome for the SEC championship. Which team or teams fit that description could be determined this weekend.

Tennessee (2-1, 0-0 SEC) will travel to Georgia (2-1, 0-1 SEC) and Missouri (3-1, 0-0 SEC) will make the journey to South Carolina (3-1, 2-1 SEC) in two pivotal games within the division.

The winners of each will and should be considered the favorites. The two road teams haven't played SEC games yet, and wins over teams that already have losses would be huge in tiebreaker scenarios. The two home teams can't afford more conference losses, and avoiding them while giving the two remaining unblemished teams loses would create more chaos.

Chaos for Georgia and South Carolina equals opportunity.

As for the division power being slanted toward the West, where six of the seven teams are ranked in the AP Top 17, it's "just one of those years."

"These are things that all kind of run in cycles," said head coach Nick Saban. "You run in cycles from team to team, and you run in cycles from division to division. This just happens to be one of those years where it seems like the West has a lot of really good teams. There have been years where the West has a lot of good teams and the East has good teams too, and I think they [East] have a lot of good teams this year."

"Good" relatively speaking, of course.

 

Keeping Them Honest

Texas A&M has become known as one of the most explosive teams in the SEC since head coach Kevin Sumlin took over prior to the 2012 season, and this year is no different. The Aggies lead the conference in plays of 30 or more yards with 18—six more than second-place Kentucky.

That'll be the key for the Aggies' offense Saturday afternoon at AT&T Stadium against Arkansas.

The Hogs are 3-1 but have been susceptible to the big play on defense, giving up six of their own—eighth in the SEC.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema prides himself on winning the time-of-possession battle, but if A&M scoring quickly contributes to that, winning that battle could be a bad thing for the Hogs.

Keep an eye on the secondary. Beilema said that safety Rohan Gaines, who suffered a stinger against Northern Illinois, is back, healthy and had three picks during Tuesday's practice. If Gaines and the rest of that Arkansas secondary can limit those big plays and perhaps force a turnover or two, it might be all Arkansas needs to spring an upset.

 

Polishing up the Offenses

LSU and Auburn won't play each other until the first weekend of October, but each has the chance to get right offensively this weekend against group-of-five FBS programs.

Auburn will host Louisiana Tech on Saturday afternoon, and job No. 1 for head coach Gus Malzahn is to get the ground game cooking again after Kansas State held the Tigers to just 128 rushing yards last Thursday night.

Was quarterback Nick Marshall making poor decisions in the zone read? Malzahn isn't worried.

"I'm very happy with his decision-making," he said. "There have been some things around him that haven't been completely cleaned up, but I've been happy."

As for Marshall's progress through the air? There shouldn't be a concern. Sure, he missed a few passes against the Wildcats, but he still managed 231 yards and fell victim to numerous big drops from his wide receivers. Had they held on to the balls, most of which were perfectly placed and, at times, in tight coverage, Marshall could have been dancing around 350 passing yards.

Clean those two things up, and Auburn will be just fine.

LSU might not be, though.

Only Vanderbilt has completed a fewer percentage of passes than head coach Les Miles' crew. Anthony Jennings has completed just 51.3 percent of his passes—last in the SEC among qualifying quarterbacks. True freshman Brandon Harris came in for mop-up duty against Mississippi State and nearly led one of the most miraculous comebacks in college football history.

You'll see both against New Mexico State.

"We'll play in a like fashion that we have in the past, with Brandon Harris getting a little more playing time," Miles said.

Miles better figure things out in a hurry. Auburn boasts the nation's 11th-best rush defense (86.00 YPG) and is seventh in terms of yards per carry (2.48). The Tigers from the Plains force whoever is taking the snaps to beat them through the air, and Miles needs to not only figure out who that is but let that person gain confidence this week vs. the Aggies.

Otherwise, it'll be a long night on the Plains next weekend.

 

Quick Outs

  • Vanderbilt still has an "or" on the depth chart at quarterback. This time, it's between Patton Robinette and true freshman Wade Freebeck. This isn't a game of musical quarterbacks anymore, though. Robinette suffered a concussion last week, and while Freebeck will have packages in the offense regardless, the uncertainty now has more to do with Robinette's status than anything else.
  • Tennessee announced a meeting with UMass on Nov. 4, 2017. Considering the Vols' gauntlet this season and meetings with Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and USC appear on its future schedule, a cupcake here or there is acceptable.
  • Psst...Ole Miss, beware of Memphis. The Tigers have notched 11 sacks and 26 tackles for loss through three games, and if Ole Miss gets behind the chains, that front four can pin its ears back against a Rebel offensive line that's been on the express to struggletown this year (22 TFLs).
  • No, this slate of SEC games isn't great. Yes, everybody is looking forward to Oct. 4. Don't sleep on this weekend, though. This weekend features matchups between teams that have several unanswered questions, which means shenanigans could be on the horizon. Let's get weird.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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College Football Picks: Week 5 Predictions for Every Game

Bring on the conference games.

Week 5 of the 2014 college football season gets us almost fully into conference play, as 36 of the 54 games scheduled between Thursday and Saturday are league tilts spread among the 10 FBS conferences. That includes 10 of the 18 games featuring teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Conference games tend to be the most hard-fought contests because old rivalries are rekindled and postseason aspirations ride on their outcomes. Even with the massive realignment that has occurred in college football the past few years, the games against teams in one's league still take on the most importance.

Check out our predictions for every game this weekend, as well as our experts' picks (against the spread) for this week's top games, then give us your choices in the comments section.

Last week: 46-11 (.807)

Season record: 221-52 (.810)

Begin Slideshow

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M Aggies Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

Is "Bielema Ball" taking hold in Arkansas?

The Razorbacks are off to a 3-1 start, both straight up and against the spread, in their second season under the former Wisconsin coach, Bret Bielema, but they will get a much better idea of where the Hogs stand when they take on Texas A&M Saturday afternoon in Arlington.

Bettors will get a better idea as well.

 

Point Spread: The Aggies opened as 12.5-point favorites at AT&T Stadium, but the line was bet down to nine points as of Thursday.

Odds Shark Computer Prediction: Aggies 41.8, Razorbacks 22.2

 

Why the Arkansas Razorbacks Can Cover the Spread

The Razorbacks have won three in a row after crushing Northern Illinois last week 52-14, covering as 14-point favorites. Arkansas returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, then returned a fumble for a score. It led 21-0 after the first quarter.

The Hogs ran for 212 yards on 45 carries and held the ball for almost 35 minutes. Yep, that sounds like Bielema Ball.

Two weeks ago, Arkansas held the ball from Texas Tech's pass-happy attack for 40 minutes in a 49-28 upset victory on the road.

The Hogs are 3-1 ATS, and should be 4-0 but for that scoreless second half against Auburn in the season opener.

 

Why the Texas A&M Aggies Can Cover the Spread

The Aggies are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS after cruising to a 58-6 victory over SMU last week, covering as 34-point favorites.

Kenny Hill, who's completed 70 percent of his throws and averaged 613 yards and 55 games per game so far with a 13-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, hasn't missed a step as Johnny Football's successor.

The season-opening victory at South Carolina was particularly impressive, racking up 680 yards of offense on what's supposed to be at least a decent Gamecocks defense, winning outright as 10-point dogs. Last week, the Aggies put up 663 yards on the Mustangs and made it look easy.

 

Smart Pick

Arkansas put on one of its best efforts of last season against A&M, losing 45-33 but covering as a 14-point underdog. The Hogs look like they're on the upswing this year. They'll have to figure out how to deal with Hill and that Aggies offense, or at least slow them down.

But part of that game plan includes keeping the ball to themselves, which is something they're capable of doing. So the pick here is with the Razorbacks and the points to extend their 9-2 SU run.

 

Trends:

  • Arkansas is 3-10 SU in its last 13 games.
  • Texas A&M is 5-0 SU in its last five games at home.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates.

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USC RB Buck Allen Putting Trojans Offense on His Shoulders

Win or lose, USC running back Javorius "Buck" Allen is ready to bear the burden.  

"I feel like you can put it on me. I messed up or whatever, I'll take the blame. Live to see another day," he said Tuesday after practice at Howard Jones Field.

Allen and the No. 18-ranked Trojans return to action this Saturday following a bye week. Their last time out, they lost 37-31 at Boston College in a decision for which the redshirt junior running back takes responsibility.

Never mind Allen produced 149 yards of total offense and scored at least one touchdown for the eighth time in his last nine appearances.

Such is the duty of a leader, a role Allen welcomes as USC's top rusher and arguably most dangerous offensive weapon. He sets the tone both with his performance on game day and his demeanor preparing for it.

"As a leader, if guys see you up and grinding, they'll keep going. If you come out, have a bad day and [you're] down, they feel like they can be down," he said. That carries over into dealing with a loss, he added.

"If you dwell on it, they're going to beat you the next week," Allen said.  

It's with that attitude in mind that Allen has taken charge in turning the page from the loss to USC's return to Pac-12 Conference play. The Trojans are back in the Coliseum for the first time in nearly a month hosting Oregon State.

The Beavers were the first opponent against which Allen emerged as a focal point of the USC offense. Starting in place of injured Tre Madden, he rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns.

A star was born that November night in 2013, but Allen credits a total team effort.

"My [offensive] line did a great job, and as for me, just trusting my reads," he said. "Gaining confidence and trusting the person next to me that as long as I do my job, he's going to do his job."

USC could use a renewed shot of confidence after the Boston College loss, particularly in the run game.

The Trojans were stymied for just 20 total rushing yards. Allen finished the night with 31, though made up for his lost production on the ground with 118 yards on nine receptions.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian said last week that while his offense is tailored to use Allen's ability as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, the running back's receiving workload in Week 3 was excessive.

Still, Sarkisian remains committed to his play-calling philosophy, which builds heavily off the run. The coach is unmoved by the team's struggles at Boston College.  

"I've had worse games than scoring 31 points," he said last week.

In other words, the pertinent question isn't whether Sarkisian will shy away from the run, but rather how USC will try to establish it Saturday against Oregon State.

The Trojans could still be without Madden, who has yet to appear in 2014. Madden went through a series of individual workouts Tuesday but was not in pads. Sarkisian said the back is close to receiving medical clearance from his toe injury, though gave no timetable for his return.

Meanwhile, sophomore change-of-pace back Justin Davis is averaging just 2.3 yards per carry on the season.

That leaves the bulk of the run responsibility on Allen's broad shoulders—a role that's suited the back just fine previously.

In USC's first two games of 2014, Allen rushed for 133 and 154 yards. He may have been stifled in Week 3, but one big play may be all he needs to reinvigorate the Trojans' ground attack. And he's taken on the mindset to make it happen.

"I always think, every play, I'm going to bust out," he said.

When he does bust out once again, Allen will take the entire USC offense with him.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics compiled via CFBstats.com.

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USC RB Buck Allen Putting Trojans Offense on His Shoulders

Win or lose, USC running back Javorius "Buck" Allen is ready to bear the burden. "I feel like you can put it on me. I messed up or whatever, I'll take the blame. Live to see another day," he said Tuesday after practice at Howard Jones Field...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Texas A&M Can Prove It Is a Playoff Contender by Stopping Arkansas' Run Game

The Texas A&M defense is in for a tough test against one of the nation's top rushing attacks. The Arkansas Razorbacks feature two magnificent running backs that will put the Aggies to the test. Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder discusses why the Arkansas running game has been so effective and how to stop it.

Will the Razorbacks run all over the Texas A&M defense?

Watch the video, and let us know!

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College Football Players Most Likely to Explode in Week 5

The 2014 college football season is entering Week 5 with the top players in the country ready to strut their stuff. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer discuss who they believe will explode onto the scene five weeks into the season.

Who do you think we should look out for?  

Watch the video, and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star 2016 CB Chad Clay Earns LSU Offer: Family Ties Helping Tigers' Case?

Rising 4-star junior corner Chad Clay is well-versed when it comes to recognizing excellence in the secondary, especially considering his father Willie was a standout defensive back in college at Georgia Tech and in the NFL. 

That’s part of the reason he was thrilled when LSU coach Les Miles and defensive backs coach Corey Raymond—who was a teammate of Willie in the NFL—extended an offer to the Suwanee, Georgia, standout last week.

“It’s a real big offer,” Chad said. “I feel like it’s an honor. If you get offered by LSU, it means that you are one of the best defensive backs because that is what they are known for. It was a really big honor. I was very excited about it.”

Willie—who, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, recorded 27 interceptions over an eight-year career in the NFL with three different teams—pointed out that the offer didn’t come simply because of his relationship with Raymond. Instead, Chad earned the offer after Raymond dug into his body of work to date on the prep level.

“Obviously, he knew I had a son that was playing,” Willie said. “But he hasn’t seen Chad in four or five years. We came down (to LSU) last weekend and he had done his due diligence and research. So when we got down there, we weren’t there but for five minutes before he (Corey) came in and they offered him a scholarship. It was a ‘if he wants to come today, he can come today,’ type of offer.”

For Willie, having that comfort level with Raymond is a big plus for the Tigers in their quest to earn his son’s pledge.

“He’s been coaching for a while and we do talk periodically,” Willie said of LSU’s defensive backs coach. “I think there’s a level of trust there that is big with him since I’ve known him for so long. As you go through the process with recruiting, I think anybody has to feel comfortable with whoever your kid is going to sign with.”

Chad’s interest in playing in Baton Rouge became magnified after his visit there last weekend to catch the LSU vs. Mississippi State game. It’s safe to say that his visit left an impression on the 6’1”, 178-pounder.

“It was probably the loudest place I’ve ever been,” Chad remarked. “It was awesome. I liked it. The fans, I just liked everything. It’s one of the greatest places I’ve ever been to.”

The Tigers' loss didn’t have any effect on Chad. In fact, he paid close attention to the secondary—which prefers to put their corners on an island and let them play tight man-to-man coverage.

“I feel like I could see myself fitting in well down there,” Chad said. “From watching them play, they play a lot of press coverage and bump and run coverage, and I feel like that’s something I’m good at and why I would fit good into their system.”

If the Tigers are able to pull him out of the metro Atlanta area, they will have to beat out powers such as Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson, Auburn, Texas A&M and Nebraska—all of whom have offered Chad and make up his top group of schools.

Chad’s ascension to becoming one of the top corners in the 2016 class began with a grueling offseason workout plan with a number of other top recruits in the metro Atlanta area who trained together at Elite Talent Football Academy.

He is also one of several talented underclassmen at Peachtree Ridge High School sharing a secondary with 2017 4-star corner DeAngelo Gibbs and 2016 3-star corner and Louisville commit Baylen Buchanan. After his training sessions in the summer and lining up in a loaded secondary every day in practice, Clay has developed a strong work ethic that has paid off with his laundry list of college offers.

“Coach (Derrick) Tatum, he’s a great trainer and a great coach,” Clay said. “He teaches a lot and he prides himself on working hard and making us work hard. Playing at Peachtree Ridge in the secondary I’m playing in with players like Baylen Buchanan and DeAngelo Gibbs, it helps because we’re all good players and we just go hard in trying to make each other better every day. Because when you try to outwork the person next to you, it just makes you better in the end.”

While he’s only in the infant stages of his recruiting process, Chad stated tentative plans to return to LSU for its home game against Alabama on Nov. 8, plus he's planning a visit to Georgia for its game against Auburn on Nov. 15. He also mentioned Florida State and Florida as teams that he is hoping to hear more from.

Even though recruiting is heating up for Chad, Willie is encouraging his son to focus on the present in school and on the field.

“These college trips are fine and OK, but right now all that really matters is what happens in school and on Friday nights for him,” Willie said. “It’s a long journey between now and college because he’s only a junior. My goal for him is that when he leaves high school, that he is ready to compete on that next level”

While he admits that he’s sometimes a tough critic because of his experience playing the same position, Willie tries to balance that out by encouraging Chad to enjoy the recruiting process.

“My biggest thing with him is just trying to teach him those small things, and also helping him to enjoy the process,” Willie said. “I think the biggest thing is, it’s a good time right now but it’s a tough time. As a dad and a parent, you just want them to enjoy the process more than anything. You only get a chance to go through it once.”

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Notre Dame vs. Syracuse: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

Notre Dame and Syracuse meet for the first time in six seasons Saturday at MetLife Stadium in the Fighting Irish's first trip away from home this season.

Surely, the Notre Dame faithful would love to forget the last time these two teams met, the result being a humiliating 24-23 loss in 2008.

This time around, though, the Fighting Irish are clicking on all cylinders on the offensive side of the ball and playing sound defense, as the Orange enter off a loss and with plenty of issues to patch up before the showdown.

Though things appear lopsided on paper, keep in mind Notre Dame's biggest test to date came against a hapless Michigan program and that Syracuse can tout a potent offense when not shooting itself in the foot.

They play the game for a reason, after all.

 

Stopping the Beast

Few imagined Brian Kelly's offense would look this prolific so quickly with Everett Golson back under center.

Golson is a surefire Heisman contender with 780 yards and seven scores to his name already, including an astounding 226 yards and three scores while completing 67.7 percent of his passes against Michigan.

To top it all off, the Fighting Irish are 14-of-14 in the red zone so far this season thanks to his high level of play.

"He's preparing so much better than he ever has, and I think it's allowing his athletic ability to shine in the game, but, again, having said that, I think there is really a lot more out there for him to accomplish," coach Brian Kelly said, per ESPN.com.

Golson will once again need to be at the top of his game Saturday. Syracuse actually touts a very strong run defense, with its issues coming against the pass. Only Villanova tallied more than 100 yards on the ground against the Orange, and it needed 60 carries to do so.

In that same vein, Golson will need to be deadly efficient. The Orange also prefer to run the football and control games. Against Villanova, Scott Shafer's team ran for 136 yards; then 289 against Central Michigan. A further improvement was seen with 370 against Syracuse.

If there is a formula that can slow Notre Dame, it is forcing the team into a one-dimensional attack and downright keeping the ball out of Golson's hands via an effective ground game. Golson has the talent to overcome it on his own, but actually doing it is quite different than talking about it.

 

Staying Cool Under Pressure

For all the good Syracuse has done en route to that 2-1 record, it sure cannot stop hurting itself in the process.

Composure has been a major issue for the Orange as is, and now the team is headed to national television at a neutral site to take on a major program. Those within Syracuse are concerned about the late start and magnitude of the event—not to mention the skill of the opponent.

"As far as the jitters when you come out, those teams like Florida State and Clemson and Notre Dame, they make it hard to get in a rhythm," quarterbacks coach Tim Lester said, per Nate Mink of Syracuse.com. "You're going to have to do a couple good things early so everyone kind of relaxes and goes play."

Again, composure has already been a red flag. In a one-point win over Villanova, the Orange racked up seven penalties for 55 yards. Things were even more sloppy in the blowout of Central Michigan, with nine penalties for 41. The behavior finally caught up to the Orange in the loss to Maryland, with eight more for 69 yards.

Syracuse does a lot of great things. The ground game is superb, but drive-killing flags will cripple the Orange against a team like Notre Dame.

 

When: Saturday, September 27, 8 p.m. ET

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Television: ABC

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 48
  • Spread: Notre Dame (-12)

 

Team Injury Reports

Injury reports via USA Today.

 

Prediction

Many will point to the fact Notre Dame has yet to be truly tested and that the team struggled to dispatch of Purdue.

Both of those are true, but to be fair, the historic rivalry against the Boilermakers is always tough. In fact, over the course of the past few seasons, that 30-14 win is the most dominant the Fighting Irish have looked in that annual showdown.

No, the real issue here is the propensity for the Fighting Irish to overlook the Orange entirely. The week after is a showdown with No. 16 Stanford. Two games after that is No. 1 Florida State.

The Fighting Irish are the superior team by far, but it is quite a young one taking its first road trip out of state with even bigger matchups to look forward to down the line. Golson will lead the team to a win, but not in a dominant way most would anticipate.

 

Prediction: Fighting Irish 36, Orange 28

 

Statistics and info courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.

 

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