Notre Dame knocks off Clemson, rematch is probable
Notre Dame used to mean “college football.” Everything in CFB started with the Irish. But then the SEC started dominating the sport, and Notre Dame became an asterisk.
But hark, the fight is back in the Irish as Notre Dame upset No. 1 Clemson, 47-40 in 2 OT’s. Fearless thinks the Irish are one of the best teams in those big Saturday night shootouts. When the lights come on, Notre Dame rarely disappoints. Clemson played without star QB Trevor Lawrence, but quarterback was not a problem. The problem was the Tigers’ depleted roster. Several of Clemson’s best players did not play.
The thing that sticks were the two previous Tiger games, a close win over Syracuse followed by a 34-28 squeaker with Boston College.
Except for the rankings, this game mattered very little. Fearless thinks they will meet in a rematch, and if Clemson is healthy, they will win the ACC and likely go on to the CFP, the college football playoff.
Some may debate that Miami should be in the mix, but not Fearless. They are ranked in the Top Ten, but Fearless doesn’t think they are a CFP-worthy team. Their narrow 44-41 win over N.C. State last weekend did nothing to bolster their case.
Two other Top Ten teams Fearless considers to be “mid-majors” are Cincinnati and BYU. Cincinnati’s schedule is anemic. BYU is an independent and has to play anybody they can schedule, Fearless understands that. But you can’t penalize better teams because BYU plays a pattycake slate.
Predicting an Alabama-Florida SEC title game, what about Georgia and Texas A & M? Both are worlds better than Cincinnati and BYU. Georgia’s roster was decimated before their trip to Florida, and their schedule is rated the third toughest in CFB. Their two losses were at Alabama and Florida. And Texas A & M handed Florida its only loss.
Time to bring out the dartboard and tell you who izza gonna win this weekend’s matchups.
EAST CAROLINA AT CINCINNATI: No, Fearless does not think the Bearcats deserve a bid to the CFP. But they should have no problem with the Purple People Friday night. A long season for ECU is heading uphill. Cincinnati 42, East Carolina 24.
MIAMI AT VIRGINIA TECH: A week after surviving N.C. State, the Hurricanes have another plane ride to Virginia Tech. If it is cold, Tech wins. If not, Miami might get outta town with a “W.” This is no gimme for Miami, and the Hokies can beat them. Miami 38, Virginia Tech 31.
NOTRE DAME AT BOSTON COLLEGE: The win over Clemson gives the Irish a boost. They will be confident against a BC team that slogged its way to a 16-13 snoozer over lowly Syracuse. Fearless thinks BC will be wide awake and ready for the Irish. Could be close, Notre Dame 35, Boston College 23.
LOUISVILLE AT VIRGINIA: Both have disappointed this season and are fighting to stay out of the second tier of the ACC standings. Both have a chance for a .500 record. It’s all over this year for the loser. Virginia 27, Louisville 25.
PITTSBURGH AT GEORGIA TECH: Pitt is coming off a blowout win at Florida State, while the ‘Ramblin Wreck had last week off after playing Notre Dame a good game. There is hope on the flats that Pitt may be riding too high after the FSU game. Pitt 34, Georgia Tech 21.
FLORIDA STATE AT N. C. STATE: The Seminoles are going nowhere this year, and the Wolfpack is struggling to have a winning record. N.C. State could easily have upset Miami, but their anemic pass defense gave up five TD passes. Playing just three down lineman does not help. Luckily they have two real good running backs. N.C. State 27, FSU 24.
WAKE FOREST AT NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels have lost two of their last four, and with Notre Dame and a trip to Miami on the horizon, have to have this game or their season is headed south. Wake Forest has been the “surprise” team of the ACC, but they finish the regular season with Miami, at Louisville, and Notre Dame. So this one is big. North Carolina 31, Wake Forest 24.
OTHER MAJOR GAMES THIS WEEKEND: Alabama over LSU, Georgia over Missouri, Auburn over Mississippi State, Florida over Arkansas, Texas A & M over Tennessee, Ohio State over Maryland, Kentucky over Vanderbilt, Indiana over Michigan State, Wisconsin over Michigan, Ole Miss over South Carolina, Liberty over Western Carolina, Appalachian over Georgia State, Charlotte over Gardner-Webb, and West Virginia over TCU (even.)
TOFF TOP 10 THIS WEEK: (Ranking factors in strength of schedule.) 1. Alabama 2. Notre Dame 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson 5. Texas A & M 6. Florida 7. Georgia 8. Oregon 9. Miami 10. Indiana.
Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2020