Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:01 PM
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards killed it this past Saturday by cashing tickets at a 6-0 clip! His guaranteed plays are on a 12-5 run (70.6%, +645), so don't miss out on his next pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
Notre Dame and Syracuse will collide Saturday afternoon in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium. The Fighting Irish’s first berth in the College Football Playoff is at stake in this 2:30 p.m. Eastern showdown on NBC.
As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Notre Dame (10-0 straight up, 6-3-1 against the spread) installed as a 10-point favorite with a total of 65. The ‘Cuse was +325 on the money line (risk $100 to win $325).
Notre Dame, ranked No. 3 in the CFP rankings this week, has won six of its 10 games by double-digit margins. The Irish have prevailed in four one-possession games and its 31-21 win at Northwestern was a misleading final score.
Brian Kelly’s team posted its best win in the opener when it knocked off Michigan, 24-17, as a 2.5-point home underdog. Notre Dame failed to cover the spread in home wins over Vanderbilt (22-17) and Ball State (24-16), and it was extremely fortunate to survive a game effort by the Commodores, who had healthy advantages over the Fighting Irish in first downs and total offense.
Kelly’s best move was replacing last year’s starting QB Brandon Wimbush with sophomore signal caller Ian Book, who took over in Week 4 and promptly led his team to a 56-27 win at Wake Forest as a six-point road ‘chalk.’ Book torched the Demon Deacons by completing 25-of-34 throws for 325 yards and two TDs without an interception. He also ran for three TDs and 43 yards on 10 carries.
Since the win at Wake, Notre Dame has captured wins vs. Stanford (38-17), at Virginia Tech (45-23), vs. Pitt (19-14), at Navy (44-22 in San Diego) and vs. FSU (42-13). Book (ribs) sat out last week’s win over the Seminoles when the Irish took the cash as a 17-point home favorite.
Wimbush threw for 130 yards and three TDs, but he was intercepted twice. The junior QB had 68 rushing yards on 12 carries. RB Dexter Williams destroyed FSU by rushing for 202 yards and a pair of TDs on 20 attempts. Alize Mack had three receptions for 29 yards and two TDs.
Book has connected on 152-of-204 passes (74.5%) for 1,824 yards with a 15/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has run for 218 yards and four TDs. Miles Boykin has 44 receptions for 654 yards and eight TDs, while Chase Claypool has 37 catches for 460 yards and three TDs. Chris Finke has caught 36 balls for 442 yards and one TD, and Mack has 30 grabs for 279 yards and three TDs.
Williams has enjoyed a stellar senior campaign, rushing for 770 yards and 10 TDs with a 6.8 yards-per-carry average. Tony Jones Jr. has run for 367 yards and three TDs while averaging 5.0 YPC. Also, Jafar Armstrong has 359 rushing yards, six TDs and a 5.4 YPC average.
Notre Dame has been a double-digit favorite six times this year, compiling a 2-3-1 spread record.
Notre Dame is ranked 15th in the nation in scoring defense, limited opponents to an average of 18.7 points per game. The Irish are 24th in the country in total defense, 29th at defending the pass and 41st in run ‘D.’
Syracuse (8-2 SU, 7-2-1 ATS) is two plays away from being undefeated. Dino Babers’ squad has won seven games by double-digit margins and took its only two defeats in back-to-back weeks at Clemson (27-23) and at Pittsburgh (44-37 in overtime).
Clemson trailed the Orange for more than 50 minutes, but it rallied from a 23-13 fourth-quarter deficit and got the game-winning TD with 41 seconds remaining. Then in a vintage letdown scenario the following week, the Panthers won a nail-biter in the extra session.
Since then, however, Babers’ bunch has won four games in a row. In fact, Syracuse has covered the spread and won by double-digit margins in each of its past three outings, including last Friday’s 54-23 win over Louisville as a 20.5-point home favorite.
Senior QB Eric Dungey threw for 192 yards and one TD with one interception against the Cardinals. Dungey also ran for 62 yards and two TDs on 16 carries, while Moe Neal produced 159 rushing yards and two TDs on merely eight attempts.
Dungey has connected on 60.0 percent of his passes for 2,193 yards with a 14/5 TD-INT ratio. He has run for a career-best 690 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 4.7 YPC. Dungey is now second in school history with 8,665 career passing yards. He has a 54/26 career TD-INT ratio, in addition to 1,929 rushing yards and 32 TDs.
Jamal Custis, a fifth-year senior WR, didn’t do much for the Orange in his first four years on campus. However, he’s enjoyed a sensational campaign with 42 receptions for 748 yards and five TDs. Sean Riley has 54 catches for 603 yards and two TDs, while Nykeim Johnson has caught 33 balls for 527 yards and four TDs.
Neal has run for 712 yards and five TDs, averaging 6.1 YPC. Dontae Strickland has 381 rushing yards, six TDs and a 4.5 YPC average.
Syracuse has covered the spread in eight consecutive games as an underdog when Dungey has been healthy. For those thinking I’m ‘Butch Jones-ing’ that stat, you are somewhat correct in that I’m excluding the last three regular-season games of 2017 when Dungey had a broken foot and wasn’t in uniform.
The ‘Cuse is 3-0 ATS with a pair of outright wins in trio of games as an underdog this season. This is only the Orange’s second spots as a double-digit ‘dog, as it was catching 24.5 points in the gut-wrenching setback at Clemson.
According to weather.com, Saturday’s forecast in the Bronx is for mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-40s. Winds are expected to blow at 5-10 miles per hour and sunset will take place early in the second half. Once it gets dark, temperatures will drop into the 30s, but the low is expected to be 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
The ‘over’ is 6-4 overall for the Orange, going 4-1 in its past five outings. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 72.0 PPG.
The ‘over’ has cashed at a 6-1 clip in Notre Dame’s last seven contests to improve to 6-4 overall. The Fighting Irish has watched its games average combined scores of 53.2 PPG. This is the highest total of the season for the Irish, as its previous high total was 60.5 in a 24-16 home win over Ball State that went ‘under.’
B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets
-- According to SI’s Ross Dellenger, former Oklahoma State and LSU head coach Les Miles was finalizing a deal – barring any last-minutes snags -- to become the next head coach at Kansas as of late Friday afternoon. Man, it’ll be nice to have ‘The Hat’ back in college football, but he’s signing up for a gig where it’s extremely difficult to win.
-- Boston College QB Anthony Brown remained ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s game at FSU as of late Friday afternoon.
-- Stanford’s game at California has been pushed back to Dec. 1 due to poor air quality caused by the fires out in California. This will give Cardinal star WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (was listed ‘probable’ after missing last week’s game), LB Joey Alfieri (‘questionable’) and a few other players more time to get healthy.
-- San Diego State will be without its leading receiver, Timothy Wilson, and its best o-lineman Tyler Roemer for Saturday’s MWC showdown at Fresno State. Roemer was a second-team All-MWC selection as a redshirt freshman in 2016.
-- Houston star QB D’Eriq King is out for the season with a torn meniscus. King has completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 2,982 yards with a 36/6 TD-INT ratio. He had also rushed for 674 yards and 14 TDs while averaging 6.1 YPC.
-- One of the most entertaining callers in the history of the Paul Finebaum Show – Tammy Bullard – tragically passed away Friday morning in Talladega County, Alabama, when she and her three-year-old granddaughter were hit by “a commercial vehicle carrying some kind of explosive material was traveling eastbound when he possibly blew a tire and the truck overturned on its side. It then veered into oncoming traffic and collided with an SUV carrying Bullard and her granddaughter. Both have been confirmed dead,” according to AL.com. Bullard was an avid Auburn fan who was a hilarious caller that never disappointed. What a horrific tragedy! RIP.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.