Week 9 Predictions – 2021
Last Week: The Buckeyes continued to roll with their very convincing 54-7 win over Indiana. The Hoosiers are now 2-6 since they were bragging they were the best team in the East. How you feeling about that statement now Coach Allen? Plenty to brag about with our weekly staff predictions though. Once again 6 members were 4-1 for the week with some rather challenging games. Joe-S-U is still on top the overall standings at 29-9, Gregg and Steven are just behind at 28-10, and Josh and Trout are sitting at 27-11. But still plenty of time for anyone to make a move and shake up the standings.
This Week’s Games: The season starts to get real this week. Next week the first playoff poll comes out and we will see where they place Cincinnati. This week we will obviously be focused on Ohio State and their game with Penn State. The Buckeyes are focused on improvement, winning another Big East title and impressing the playoff committee. Coach Franklin is focused on, well I am not sure. Will his distractions be a burden for the Nittany Lions this week? …. Hard to believe but Michigan and Michigan State enter their match-up with a combined 14-0 record. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top fo this one but it might be even more interesting to see what the winner does with their poll position with the victory. …. Georgia and Florida will face of in Jacksonville for their rivalry game. Will the Gators upset the #1 team in the land or will the Bulldog fans start making their plans for Atlanta? …. Ole Miss and Auburn square off this week, both still with a chance to win the SEC West. But loss this one and you fall out of the race completely. …. Notre Dame has a chance to prove they can be competitive again but the Tarheels are not going to go quietly. Can North Carolina show they still have some gas in the tank?
Buckeye Greats: As with the past, we will continue to include former Buckeye players in our prediction fun and we are thrilled to have Vaughn Broadnax back with us as a regular participant for the seventh straight year.
Here we go with our Week 9 Picks – Good Luck to All – Gregg
(20)Penn State @ (5)Ohio State
Andy: This game was looking very interesting two weeks ago when Sean Clifford was healthy and playing some of his best football of his life. The Lions quarterback has been beaten up and injured the past two weeks and it has really hindered the Penn State offense which has had trouble establishing the run the entire year. Penn State has played very good defense this year and will be one of the toughest defenses Ohio State will face all year. With a lack of running game and Sean Clifford hurt I just don’t see how Penn State can compete in this game, they’re not going to be able to get into an offensive shootout especially against the number one offense in the country. Vegas has OSU as 18 point favorites, and it is hard to argue with logic in this game. Penn State is building an excellent program under James Franklin, they’re just not quite all there this year. Ohio State 42 Penn State 17
Coach Rick: The Big 10 schedule has helped OSU by allowing the team to come together and turn into a championship team. With that being said, I like the way that the team is playing. I have OSU winning by 17 points.
Cory: Well, that was something. If you didn’t see Penn State’s 20-18 loss to Illinois in nine overtimes last week don’t watch it because it will make your brain hurt. Sean Clifford returned to quarterback for the Nittany Lions but was obviously far from 100 percent as he completed just 19 of 34 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown. This game was at Penn State, folks. This offense is a mess, Clifford is still hurting, and now they go on the road to face a surging Ohio State team. This will be Ohio State’s toughest opponent to date, and make no mistake the Penn State defense still is very good. But with how poorly the offense is playing right now the Buckeyes will be able to wear Penn State down. Ohio State 35, Penn State 17
Dave: Ohio State 42 Penn State 21
Gregg: The Vegas line has been growing all week on this game in favor of the Buckeyes. The Ohio State offense continues to look better every week, scoring a touchdown on every drive in the first half in Bloomington before calling off the dogs. The defense looks better every week since the Oregon loss but the competition has bee suspect. Penn State has the ability to score but injuries, particularly to Sean Clifford have impacted there ability to move the ball. Bottom line, I think there has always been too much made of this being a big rivalry. Yes historically these are two of the winningest programs in all of college football and each team boasts legendary coaches in the college ranks with Hayes and Paterno. But James Franklin is no JoePa and it is hard to tell if he is even focused on this game. In spite of this being a key match-up, Penn State has only won one game in the last nine meetings and that was only because PSU held back-up Offensive Lineman Brady Taylor on a blocked field goal and scored a game winning touchdown on the return. Take the Buckeyes and give the points in this one, no matter where the line lands. Ohio State 45 Penn State 13
Jason: The Nittany Lions are struggling, losers of two straight but despite all the issues on offense, the defense has been decent. They allowed just 38 yards through the air to Illinois, all thought the Illini was able to rush for 357 and in the loss to Iowa, the defense allowed just over 300 total yards. However, the offense they are about to face isn’t Iowa and Illinois. The Buckeyes have been piling up yards and points, but they aren’t exactly playing great defenses. The Penn State group may be the best they’ve faced all year. However, Ohio State just may boast the best WR group, headlined by Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson and oh by the way Jackson Smith-Njigba is a blossoming star. They also have arguably the best Offensive Line, potentially the best running back in TreVeyon Henderson and a Heisman caliber QB in C.J. Stroud. That’s a whole lot of talent. The Buckeye defense has been trending up as well, allowing less than 76 yards per game since game 2. Penn State has talent, but they are heading into a hornet’s nest. The Buckeyes have their eyes on the CFP while Penn State is scrambling with a coach who may have one foot out the door. The weather could hold scoring down a bit, but bottom line is Ohio State is too good. Penn State can’t afford to fall way behind and try to come back. They will hang around for a quarter or so before Ohio State pulls away for a comfortable win at home. Ohio State 38 Penn State 17
Joe-S-U: OSU over Penn State.…big….as in give the points/take the over big
John: This is one of those weeks that start to separate the good teams from the bad. How good, really is Penn State? Penn State with a healthy Sean Clifford is much more dynamic that one with an inured Sean Clifford. So, is Clifford healthy? Franklin say he’s 100%. That’s debatable, but we’ll see 1) how willing he is to tuck it and run, and 2) what happens after he gets hit a few times. The next question is how good is Ohio State’s offense? Maryland and Rutgers weren’t good test, but before last Saturday the book on the Hoosier’s D was it was fairly stout. After all they held an unbeaten MSU to only 20 points just the week before giving up 44 to OSU – in just the first half. A health Clifford may let PSU hang for a while, but if the OSU offense can keep hitting on all cylinders, this one could get ugly – healthy Clifford or no. Ohio State 38 Penn State 17
Josh: This will be a match up between two teams that are trending in two different directions since the start of the month. Penn State is entering this game with two straight loses where their rush defense was gashed, and have injuries on both sides of the ball. Ohio State wins this game in the trenches, on both sides of the ball, and should be able to handle the Nittany Lion offensive line. The best chance Penn State has in this game is if they can slow down Olave, Wilson, and Smith-Njigba. I expect a big game from Stroud and Henderson, and we should see a lot of passes to Smith-Njigba and Ruckert. Ohio State 42 – Penn State 13.
Steven: Penn State lives and dies with quarterback Sean Clifford. His injury and subsequent unavailability has forced the Nittany Lions to play backup Ta’Quan Roberson. Roberson was, and unfortunately still is ill-prepared to take over the team. In 3 appearances, Roberson has an under 40% completion rate, 2 interceptions and one touchdown. This is where you see the tremendous advantage Ohio State has, depth. OSU’s skill positions are 4 deep across the board. On most days the Bucks offensive second string could and should beat most of their Big Ten opponents. The Bucks are quite not there depth-wise on defense yet, but they are improving. Saturday’s game in Bloomington proved much more about the Buckeyes ability to win in the elements than it did about defeating the Hoosiers. Looking back to the first game of the season at Minnesota, it looked like the rain dulled the offense just a bit. Now we see they can dominate under inclement weather. This should put a shudder down the spine of every opposing coach left on the schedule. I’m still convinced that the rain is a primary reason, along with Urban’s inexplicable choice to keep Zeke on the sidelines, that doomed the Buckeyes when they hosted Michigan State in 2015. My pants are still drying out from having to sit through that debacle. With PSU’s Clifford banged up, questionable talent behind him, and no help leveling the field from the weather man, Penn State will suffer the same fate as Indiana. OSU rolls 45-17 rain or shine.
Trout: Penn State is better than what they showed against Illinois. That was a very weird game, topped with the worst form of overtime I have ever seen. Having said that, they are not going to beat the Buckeyes. Ohio State is just more talented than the Nittany Lions. I don’t think it will be a complete blowout, but I do believe Ohio State beats Penn State by 3 or more scores. It also doesn’t help Penn State that Ohio State’s offense is firing on all cylinders at the moment. They look like the best offense in the country right now. The one thing that the Nittany Lions can take advantage of is the defense. Although improving, the Buckeye defense is still a work in progress. I see the game being close for the first quarter or so, and then Ohio State pulls away and never looks back. (Ohio State, 45-21)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Penn State has been able to single-handedly diminish a top 5 ranking and turn it into mush. From repping the B1G against the SEC to not being able to make a measly 3 yards on multiple tries. Ohio State beats Penn State 45-13
Final Score: Ohio State xx Penn State xx
(6)Michigan @ (8)Michigan State
Andy: This is probably the best game of the day this weekend, a rivalry game in late October between two of the highest ranked teams in the country. I heard a stat that this is the first time in the history of this rivalry that both teams have made it to this point undefeated. Man does this have the making to be a historic game. Both teams are actually kind of similar too, they both have good scoring defense and are two of the best rushing offenses in the country. The Spartans have the leading rusher in all of college football in Kenneth Walker, who is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and has 10 touchdowns for MSU this season. The Wolverines have one of the best running back rooms in the country, they don’t rely on one or two players but three to get their run attack going. Blake Corum, Hassan Haskins and Donovan Edwards have combined for just under 1,500 rushing yards this season to go along with their freaky 22 combined rushing touchdowns. Which defense will be able to get more stops in this game, this is a classic style Big Ten matchup, we’re going to see two very talented and physical football teams clash on Saturday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either team come away with a win. Michigan 28 Michigan State 26
Coach Rick: The battle of undefeateds. I am not sure which team surprises me more with their records. I think this will be a battle, but in the end I have Michigan winning in the end by 10.
Cory: The game of the week has to be Michigan and Michigan State, as both are undefeated. Michigan is coming off a decisive win over Northwestern while the Spartans are coming in well rested having a bye last week. It’s great when rivalry games mean something, and this one certainly does as the winner will have a good chance to play in the Big Ten Championship game. It has been impressive to see the turnaround at Michigan State under the second year of Mel Tucker, as the Spartans won just two games last year. I want to pick them so bad but am not certain they’re on the same level as Michigan right now. The Spartans are undefeated but none of their wins are impressive. At least Michigan blew out Washington and Wisconsin. Kenneth Walker is tremendous to watch, but overall Michigan has a stronger running game. Michigan 28, Michigan State 24
Dave: Michigan 21 Michigan State 20
Gregg: This one is the one for me to predict of our five games for Buckeye50.com this week. Both teams come into this game 7-0 and ranked in the top ten nationally. MSU is getting some love for beating the U earlier in the season but we all know now the Hurricanes are nothing without D’Eriq King and not really too much more with him. Michigan’s best win might be against Washington but the Huskies have only scored 93 points all season in the Pac-12. I am trying to figure out if either of these teams are 7-0 elite, or just the same 2-4 and 2-5 teams they were last season, with an easier schedule. The Wolverines do not have a balanced offense but I think they will do just enough to win what may be a real yawner by the time it is over. Michigan 17 Michigan State 13
Jason: Michigan has been struggling to throw the football all year, but that running game is their bell cow. The Spartans have the ability to make big plays both on the ground with RB Kenneth Walker and through the air, however this will be the best defense they’ve seen all year and it isn’t close. The Spartans will need to avoid penalties, which they’ve had troubles with all year and move the chains on third downs. The Spartan D has been playing well too and it will be strength on strength with the Michigan State run defense against the Michigan O line and run game. This has the makings of a ground and pound type game but ultimately a couple Spartan big plays will be the difference as Michigan State gets the win and puts the Spartans in a good spot heading down the stretch of the Big Ten season. Michigan State 27 Michigan 21
Joe-S-U: Sparty over TBGUN
John: So how good are these two teams, really? Yes, they are both unbeaten but where is the signature win? For Sparty, probably the win against then #24 Miami, but the ‘Canes are now 3-4. Michigan has no wins against anyone ranked in the top 25, has looked very one dimensional on offense, but has a stout D, at least against the competition they’ve played. The feels like a low scoring game. While Michigan is slightly favored, I think the game being in East Lansing gives Sparty a slight edge. Here is hoping for a tough, physical game where they both beat each other to a bloody pulp. Michigan State 20, Michigan 17
Josh: Michigan State’s offense is based on Big Play ability and has the leading rusher in the country going against a good defensive run team in Michigan. The Wolverines have their own running back tandem, but a quarterback who can no throw the ball down the field. If Sparty can force Michigan in 3rd and long situations, it will be a long day for the Wolverines. The crowd should be loud, and I like the Spartans at home in this one in a close game. Michigan State 24 – Michigan 21.
Steven: Can Sparty slow down Michigan’s rushing attack? That’s pretty much the game right there. Wolverine QB Cade McNamara through 7 games has 1115 yards and FIVE touchdowns. For comparison,opposing quarterback Payton Thorne has 1701 yards and 15 touchdowns. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has taken the Hot Tub Time Machine back to 1968. For him and his team, it seems to be working… so far. Making your team one dimensional is a recipe for disaster. No matter how good the run game is, and UM running back Blake Corum is very good, he’s 25% of their offense per game. Shut him down, and you’d easily take your chances against McNamara and the rest of the Katzenjammer Kids. Until McNamara shows he can carry the team on his own, the plan is simple, shut down the run game. This one is tight, but I’m going with Sparty. I like Mel Tucker, and he may just be America’s hottest coach after this one. MSU 29-20
Trout: This game is a bit of a toss up. I think Michigan might slightly be better, but at the same time, Jim Harbaugh has a bad track record in big games.I don’t like it, but my gut is telling me to pick the Wolverines. Sparty’s struggles with Indiana have really shook my confidence in them as a real contender in the Big Ten. Granted, I still don’t know what Michigan is. Sparty is probably the best team they have played to this point. The game will be very close. Most likely coming down to the last play of the game. I see Michigan capitalizing on Michigan State’s mistakes and scoring just enough to beat them. The Wolverines win and hand their “little brother” their first loss of the season. (Michigan, 21-18)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Little Brother upsets Big Brother 31-27
Final Score: Michigan State xx Michigan xx
(10)Mississippi @ (18)Auburn
Andy: I really think this was a more interesting matchup at the beginning of the season. Ole Miss has really been plagued by the injury bug this season. They’ve lost a handful of offensive lineman, their starting tight end and two starting receivers and that is just the offensive side of the ball. New head coach Bryan Harsin at Auburn has this team playing with a fire and energy that we rarely saw under previous head coach Gus Malzahn. Quarterback Bo Nix is not the game breaker he was believed to be coming out of high school, but Harsin and his staff have Nix playing a fun sort of style of backyard football that is fun to watch and frankly has Bo Nix playing his best football. I think because of the injuries Ole Miss will have a hard time in this game. Auburn 31 Ole Miss 21
Coach Rick: Not sure about this game as Auburn’s two losses are to good teams and I am not sure how good Mississippi’s defense is. I think this will come down to a touchdown in a battle, but I have Mississippi winning.
Cory: It seems like people keep waiting for Auburn to break out and become elite and the Tigers just aren’t capable. Quarterback Bo Nix is good but a bit overrated. Playing at home gives them some advantage but it’s hard to see Auburn keeping up with the explosive Ole Miss offense. Ole Miss 34, Auburn 21
Dave: Mississippi 32 Auburn 28
Gregg: Coach Kiffin may be out there a bit but he and his Rebels are going to put up some points in this one. Auburn is a solid team but I still can’t get out of my head this team lost to Penn State. Mississippi 40 Auburn 20
Jason: The Ole Miss offense keeps rolling along with a very explosive offense behind Heisman caliber QB Matt Corral. Currently they sit 2nd in the nation offensively behind Ohio State. Auburn’s offense is not Ole Miss but they are good. Bo Nix has been solid, hitting over 80% of his passes in a win over Arkansas and thanks to a solid defense, the Tiger O hasn’t had to do a lot. They will have to be extra special on Saturday to get pressure on Corral, but they should get some. Auburn is going to have to play ball control to get a win in this game and keep the ball out of the Ole Miss offense’s hands. They will have some success with their ground game and Nix will dink and dunk his offense down the field, but ultimately the Rebels offense is too good and a couple big plays will be the difference as Ole Miss gets out of Auburn with a big win. Ole Miss 31 Auburn 24
Joe-S-U: Auburn over Ole Miss to take the Rebs out of the race for what pathetic SEC also ran can we boost up in the rankings to make Georgia and Alabama look like they won a “big” game
John: Mississippi’s lone loss to date is to Alabama. No shame in that. Auburn has dropped two – to Georgia (again, no shame it that) and to Penn State????? 2021 seems to have as a ton of games where the higher ranked team is the betting underdog, including this one. The game being at Jordan-Hare I think gives the Tiger’s enough of an edge to get the win. Auburn 30 Mississippi 27
Josh: Ole Miss has an offense that lives and dies by how well Matt Corral plays. Auburn has shown glimpses of being good, but at the same time have been inconsistent. I am rolling with the Rebels in this one, and I think Auburn cant keep up with the scoring of Ole Miss. Ole Miss 38 – Auburn 28.
Steven: Mississippi can keep up with about any team in a track meet. The question is, can they shore up a porous defense to keep their SEC hopes alive? Rebels QB Matt Corral is the team’s leading passer and rusher, but the guy doesn’t play defense. If you’re Ole Miss, and giving up over 400 yards per game, you better hope your offense can carry you. Auburn can easily put a spy on Corral and limit his ability to run and overall effectiveness. This may be one of the most fun games to watch this week, as may be a back and forth affair. The line says Auburn is giving a point. Who am I to blow against the wind? Auburn 31-30
Trout: This game should be a close one. In having to pick a winner, I’d have to go with Ole Miss. Talent-wise, I don’t think the Rebels are head and shoulders above the Tiger, but they do have a better offense. However, on average they do allow nearly 10 more points per game than Auburn does. I see this game being somewhat of a shootout, with the lead going back and forth. But towards the end, Lane Kiffin and his Rebels will retake the lead and hold onto it long enough to win the game. Mississippi wins and knocks Auburn out of the top 25. (Mississippi, 49-42)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Ole Miss edges Auburn 35-31
Final Score: Mississippi xx Auburn xx
(1)Georgia @ Florida
Andy: Both of these teams are coming off a bye, with Florida losing going into their bye week. Georgia has held fast at number 1 overall in the country. Florida’s offense went from being one of the best in the country last season at throwing the football to being one which is having a hard time finding it’s identity this season to the point where towards the beginning of November the Gators have not established who their starting quarterback is. Florida has leaned on their game a lot to alleviate issues at the quarterback position, with five different players running for over 200 yards a piece and a combined 17 rushing touchdowns. Georgia’s defense is simply the best in the country and one of the best we’ve seen in college football over the past 10-12 years, this is a truly special defense. However Georgia’s offense has lacked explosive plays from both the passing and running game. Georgia has mostly been getting it done through a balanced offense, but the ability to run the football has greatly taken pressure off of the quarterbacks who have no been great for Georgia this season. This is going to be a weird game, I think Florida’s defense is underrated especially their pass defense and I think Georgia’s offense will be effective although not particularly dangerous. Georgia 27 Florida 17
Coach Rick: This should not be a good game with Georgia winning by 17.
Cory: After Florida lost to Alabama, most people would say, “Well, yeah but that was expected.” Since then the Gators have lost to Kentucky and LSU. They just aren’t the same as last year, though that should be obvious given the offensive talent they lost. Florida is still decent, but the problem is they are going against arguably the best defense in the nation right now – Georgia. That does not bode well for Florida considering their quarterbacks have thrown 12 interceptions to just 16 touchdowns. I believe this is another Georgia game that could get out of control early. Georgia 31, Florida 13
Dave: Georgia 42 Florida 21
Gregg: Georgia is elite, Florida is not. Gators might keep it close for a quarter, but in the end, the Bulldogs are the better team and have more to play for. Georgia 38 Florida 21
Jason: The two headed QB monster of Florida can give the Georgia D a dynamic it has yet to see and if they can have some success through the air, the running game can move the chains and hold onto the ball for long drives and make this a four quarter game. Georgia QB JT Daniels is healthy again and if he’s 100%, Georgia may have an offense that can play at a high level. If he’s not and he hasn’t played in a month, Stetson Bennett is a solid backup, but he’s not going to put up monster yardage. The Gator D is decent, holding Bama down, but LSU pounded them on the ground. The Gators have had some turnover issues and Georgia will make you pay. The bottom line is, this is a rivalry game and it will be emotional and hard hitting. But, Georgia is just too good on defense. Florida will keep it close but the Dawg D will come up with a turnover or two and that will be the difference. Georgia 27 Florida 20
Joe-S-U: Georgia over Florida as Gary Danielson weeps with joy over this year’s version of the “greatest team ever”
John: There is really no reason to think that Florida will hang with Georgia in this years edition of the Worlds Largest Cocktail Party, but 2021 has been a weird year. I think the Gators manage to keep this one close, but I also think that Georgia is he best team in college football this year. Georgia 28 Florida 24
Josh: Georgia had a bye week to get ready for this game, and this should be the last test for them before preparing for the SEC Championship Game. For Florida, this is their last real chance to salvage a season where they already have 3 losses. Dan Mullen is a good offensive mind, so it will be interesting to see these two team against each other as the Gators might be able to pull the upset. I think Georgia’s defense though is too good, and will be the key in this game as Georgia wins a close one. Georgia 27 – Florida 21.
Steven: We all know that Georgia has a fantastic defense, but this is the best offense they have seen to date. The Gators have been inconsistent this year, but their three losses are by a touchdown or less, so they keep things close and match offenses with the best in the league. This one being in the Swamp, I like the possibility of an upset. Historically, Florida loves the big stage. This season, it won’t come any bigger. Gators throw another wrench into the wildest SEC campaign in years. Florida 43-38
Trout: Florida is bad. They will not win this game. Although I still have my questions about the Bulldogs, they are clearly the better team. I see Georgia getting out to a big lead early, and maining it throughout the game. I know the Gators were able to give Alabama a game, but we’ve also seen that the Crimson Tide isn’t as untouchable as we once thought. Florida may be able to get a few scores in, but it will be clear that Georgia is in control of that game. The Bulldogs win and remain the top team in the Country. (Georgia, 48-21)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Georgia blasts Florida 34-17
Final Score: Georgia xx Florida xx
North Carolina @ (11)Notre Dame
Andy: This is perhaps the most fun matchup of the week. Notre Dame is riding a high after beating rival USC by two touchdowns, while North Carolina has lost a lot of expectations which generally makes teams play more free and attacking style of play. Notre Dame’s offense has struggled this season after losing some of it’s starters from last year. They’re having a heck of a time establishing the run, only running for over 700 yards as a team through 7 games this season. Transfer quarterback Jack Coan has been effective for Notre Dame by being a steady game manager. The Tar Heels came into the season with a ton of people thinking they were potentially a playoff team. While that reality has been busted this year, they’re still a quality team with some really good players. Quarterback Sam Howell despite not being a Heisman front runner is still one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Tar Heels offensive coordinator Phil Longo has an incredibly potent offense, however it is not very consistent. I think with this being the highest rated teams left on the schedule North Carolina is going to swing for the fences. North Carolina 31 Notre Dame 23
Coach Rick: Notre Dame at home should have little issues in this game. I have the Irish by 24.
Cory: Before the season began the matchup of North Carolina and Notre Dame looked like a big one, but it is not so much now that the Tarheels are 4-3. North Carolina is coming off a win over Miami and the Tarheels have not won consecutive games since beating Georgia State and Virginia in weeks two and three. Notre Dame has some offensive issues of its own – the Irish tend to rotate quarterbacks and so far none of them has really stood out. That said, the Irish are still a strong team and running back Kyren Williams is finally playing a little better – he’s averaging 109 yards a game over the last two games compared to just 55 yards a game across his first five games. Notre Dame 38, North Carolina 28
Dave: Notre Dame 32 North Carolina 21
Gregg: Coach Brown has down a nice job bringing the Tar Heel program back some. But bringing a program back and keeping it elevated are two different things. UNC was 3-9 and 2-9 the two years before he arrived. Now they can probably be an 8-4 / 9-3 type team but getting into the ACC championship will take something more. Notre Dame is one of the weakest looking one-loss teams in the country but they will find a way to win this one at home unless Sam Howell can have a Heisman type game for a change. Notre Dame 28 North Carolina 17
Jason: North Carolina has been Jekyll and Hyde so far this season, but behind QB Sam Howell, if they get it going, they can beat almost anyone. They have a solid run game, but Howell has been under constant pressure. If the Tarheel O line can keep his pocket clean, the ND secondary is vulnerable especially without their best DB, S Kyle Hamilton out with a knee injury. However, the Irish D is very good. They can allow yards, but they are the true definition of bend but don’t break and they are really good at creating turnovers. If the Tarheel defense can get to Jack Coan, the Tarheels have a great chance to get the upset. Coan will be good but not great in this one, but he will be good enough. The Heels won’t be able to run the ball at all and the Irish get another win as they keep their eyes set on a NY 6 bowl game appearance. ND 31 NC 24
Joe-S-U: Domers over N. Carolina- OSU/Penn St. will outdraw the World Series, will this game?
John: A little surprising that the #11 Irish are only 3.5 point favorites at home against the Tar Heels. That tells me the money thinks that on a neutral field, the 4-3 Heels are basically a pick-em against ND. I need some upsets to hit, so… North Carolina 31 Notre Dame 28
Josh: Notre Dame finally showed they can run a fast offense with Jack Coan who has been improving since their game against Wisconsin. North Carolina at this point is playing for pride, and a win against a top 15 team in Notre Dame could help define their season. I actually like the upset in this one and can see North Carolina winning in a shoot out. North Carolina 42 – Notre Dame 35.
Steven: Wow, you want to talk inconsistent, thy name is Tarheel. UNC’s 3 losses are to teams that sit at 3-4. 3 of the Tarheel’s wins are against teams that are now 3-4. I guess there is some consistency to the inconsistency. UNC has one win against a team with a record above.500, a 59-39 shootout win against Virginia. As good as Tarheel QB Sam Howell was supposed to be, (a Heisman hopeful), he and the offense can’t score enough to make up for a middling defense. Notre Dame’s defense isn’t much better, (ranked 59th to UNC’s 64th), but it isn’t too far a stretch to say the Irish have faced much better competition than North Carolina. Irish QB Jack Coan has righted the ship a bit over the past couple of weeks after a tough loss to Cincinnati. Notre Dame stays in the Championship conversation for a little while longer, ND 35-28.
Trout: Although I don’t think the Irish are a good team by any stretch of the imagination, I still think they are better than the Tar Heels. North Carolina should be a good team, but they are wildly inconsistent. Losing to bad Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Florida State teams. Notre Dame should be able to handle whatever they throw at them. Jack Coan just needs to play well. If he doesn’t turn the ball over or make dumb mistake, Notre should be able to win this game by a few scores. The Tar Heels do have the ability to put up points, so that might help them in this fight. But in the end, I see the Notre Dame Fighting Irish doing just enough to pull off the victory. (Notre Dame, 28-24)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Notre Dame pads their stats against North Carolina and wins 48-13