Golden Boy

A college football legend passed away last week. Former Heisman trophy winner Paul Hornung, Notre Dame’s Golden Boy, died at the age of 84 on Nov. 13. I only remember him through tales from my dad and old newsreel footage of him playing for the Irish and, more famously (at least to me and my brother), the Green Bay Packers.

Hornung won a close Heisman race in 1956, getting the nod over Tennessee’s Johnny Majors by 72 points 1,066-994. The Irish were 2-8 that year (Major’s Vols were 10-1 and finished ranked No. 2 in the nation). Imagine if the Heisman was awarded to a player on a 2-8 team this year. It would never happen. It just goes to show you the power the Irish had back in the day.

While shuffling through stories about Hornung over weekend, we noticed this anecdote that was shared on Twitter by multiple sources. During Hornung’s senior year, African American Notre Dame basketball player Tom Hawkins was not served in a pizza place in South Bend. Father Hesburgh (who ran the school with an iron fist) barred ND students from going there. It was Hornung’s favorite place, so he picked up Hawkins and took him there. They got served.

After that bit of reminiscing, let’s set up the dartboard and see whooza gonna win this week’s games…

APPALACHIAN STATE AT COASTAL CAROLINA: Coastal QB Grayson McCall is the second best QB from Union County playing their college football in the Carolinas this year (the best is in Chapel Hill). Look for him to lead the Chanticleers to victory against perennial Group of 5 Power App State in Conway this weekend in front of a national audience on ESPN 2…Coastal Carolina 31, App State 24. 

ABILENE CHRISTIAN AT VIRGINIA: Since we are reminiscing this week, we remember RB Wilbert Montgomery starring for the Wildcats in the early 70s. Montgomery also went on to a successful pro career for the Philadelphia Eagles. This year’s version of Abilene Christian wishes they had Montgomery. Since they don’t, this is a glorified scrimmage that gets UVA to .500 for the season…Virginia 56, ACU 7.

SYRACUSE AT LOUISVILLE: In the COVID year, we question how this matchup between two teams that have combined to win one of their last 10 games gets anyone excited. Players, fans, and especially ESPN that is airing this game on national TV on Friday night. Home field advantage is enough to make the difference here…Muhammad Ali 30, Jim Brown 14.

GEORGIA TECH AT MIAMI: Coming off two close road wins, the Canes get the reeling Yellow Jackets at home. The U still has a mathematical chance to be in consideration for a spot in the ACC title game, so they don’t want to get caught sleeping here. Even if they are, QB D’Eriq King has proven to be enough of a difference maker to insure the win…Miami 42, Georgia Tech 14.

VIRGINIA TECH AT PITTSBURGH: The Hokies have lost three of their last four. Pittsburgh has lost four of their last five. But the Panthers are at home and a different team with Kenny Pickett at QB, who just returned from injury. It will be tough for Tech to bounce back here after two home tough losses against a Pitt team that had two weeks’ rest. Upset Special…Pitt 24, Virginia Tech 21.

CLEMSON AT FLORIDA STATE: Based on their performance in Raleigh last weekend, we feel like the Noles are done for this season. If not, a Tiger team coming off a loss that will also have QB Trevor Lawrence back should finish them off. The score all comes down to how much Dabo feels he needs to keep the Tigers in the national title discussion…Clemson 52, FSU 17.

LIBERTY AT N.C. STATE: The Flames are undefeated, including two road ACC victories. The Wolfpack, and specifically QB Bailey Hockman, has improved in each of the last two weeks after their whuppin in Chapel Hill. We would like to be homers, but Liberty is having a magical season (see the blocked kick return for a TD overturned by an ice the kicker timeout in Blacksburg) that is too much to go against here…Liberty 28, N.C. State 27.

EAST CAROLINA AT TEMPLE: Almost a battle for the bottom of the AAC (Thank you South Florida). Both teams have one win this year and are about as even as you can get from a statistical standpoint. Temple is a much better team when QB Anthony Russo is available. If he returns from a shoulder injury/COVID restrictions, the advantage goes to the Owls. Predication based on Russo playing…Temple 34, ECU 31.

WAKE FOREST AT DUKE: Both teams are coming off losses to the Tarheels where they each gave up over 50 points. The difference is Wake’s offense put up 30 more points than Duke. And in the last two meetings between the Devils and the Preachers, Wake has outgained Duke by 1,135-541 (thanks Phil Steele). Based on those two data points, we don’t think home field advantage or a week off will make enough of a difference for an upset here…Wake Forest 42, Duke 27.

OTHER MAJOR GAMES THIS WEEKEND:  Marshall over Charlotte, Florida over Vanderbilt, Arkansas over LSU, Texas A&M over Ole Miss, Alabama over Kentucky, Auburn over Tennessee, Georgia over Mississippi St., South Carolina over Missouri, Oregon over UCLA, Ohio State over Indiana, Cincinnati over Central Florida, Northwestern over Wisconsin, Oklahoma over Oklahoma St., USC over Utah.

TOFF TOP TEN:   1.  Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Clemson, 4. Florida, 5. Notre Dame, 6. Texas A & M, 7. BYU, 8. Cincinnati, 9. Georgia, 10. Indiana.   

Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2020.