Miami Hurricanes (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-5 SU, 2-5 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Saturday, October 29th, 3:30 PM
Where: Notre Dame Stadium
by Mike Mann, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIA -1 / ND +1
Over/Under Total: 58.5
The Miami Hurricanes travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame in the first game of a home-away series between the two former rivals. The Irish and Canes played each other 19 times between 1971-1990 but have done so only twice since, with Notre Dame winning both the 2010 Sun Bowl matchup 33-17 and again two years later 41-3 at Soldier Field in Chicago. All together they have played 25 times with the Irish holding the upper hand with a 17-7-1 record, including a 11-1 mark in games not played in the city of Miami.
Unfortunately for fans of both schools a large bit of luster has been lost from the game as neither team is currently ranked in the polls and both are in the midst of title killing losing streaks, with Miami having lost three games in a row and Notre Dame dropping four of their last five. Instead of playoff ramifications the only real postseason meaning for the game will be the jockeying of draft status position between two quarterbacks that are expected to be picked early in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Brad Kaaya of Miami and DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame.
Kaaya on the season has thrown for 1,696 yards and 12 touchdowns with 5 interceptions, and has played even better on the road, putting up a 6-2 TD/INT ratio while also completing 68% of his passes away from Sun Life Stadium. One part of Kaaya’s game that has been a thorn in his side is throwing under pressure, as on the season he has completed 67% of his passes under no pressure but just 33% when pressured and is also putting up a QB rating that is 72 points lower when feeling the heat. Much of this can be directly attested to the struggles of his offensive line, which was a major issue in their loss at Virginia Tech last Thursday when Kaaya was sacked eight times during their 37-16 beatdown in Blacksburg.
While the Hurricanes line is lacking in consistency and cohesiveness it may not be as much of a deterring factor as it should be against Notre Dame this week, as based on their season so far it doesn’t appear that the Irish are much capable of taking advantage of Miami’s disarray up front. The Irish rank a mere 125th out of the 128 teams in sacks this year with only six through seven games, an average of less than one per week. In similar fashion the allowance of quarterback pressure would appear to be an issue of concern for the Notre Dame, as the Miami defense ranks 19th in the nation in sacks while the Irish offense come in at 89th in sacks allowed, but instead the Hurricanes are dealing with mass injury issues to their defensive line with Chad Thomas, Gerald Willis, Scott Patchan and Demetrius Jackson all currently questionable to play on Saturday after having missed last week’s game against the Hokies.
Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer will be greatly hoping that those four players, along with banged up Miami defensive backs Sheldrick Redwine and Rayshawn Jenkins, continue to miss time due to injury in hopes of getting the passing game back to it’s scoring ways from the beginning of the 2016 season. Kizer hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since the first quarter of their October 1st game against Syracuse, and if the Irish hope to keep pace with Kaaya and the ‘Canes, he will need to find the endzone against not only on the ground (he is the Irish team leader in rushing touchdowns with seven out of their twelve) but also through the air. One thing is for certain regarding the position; Notre Dame and beleaguered head coach Brian Kelly need to stop immediately with the occasional quarterback rotational shenanigans and inserting of Malik Zaire into the game for DeShone Kizer. The once reliable Zaire has turned near useless and has completed just 6 of 16 passes on the season so far, with all six completions coming in the first two weeks of the season. Since the Nevada game he has been in on eight plays, going 0-2 passing while rushing six times for -6 yards. The only coach fooled into thinking Zaire is going to do anything remotely out of the ordinary or productive when he comes into the game is his own, Brian Kelly, whose vote of confidence given by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick put the nail in the coffin for the chance of the Irish redeeming their 2016 season, and with another expected recruit bailing on ND specifically because of Kelly, possibly beyond.
This week Swarbrick stated that “Brian will lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year” after there was much speculation that Kelly could be on his way out of South Bend, most notably highlighted by repeated comments by both former and current players regarding getting rid of Kelly in favor of making a move for recently fired at LSU coach Les Miles, or pretty much any coach at all that wasn’t the . The past and present player comments against Kelly are in stark contrast to what Swarbrick wanted those at the press conference to believe, when he went on to say in regards to Kelly that “his relationship with the team is probably as strong as any that I’ve seen him with” and that the AD himself “sees no cracks in the foundation, morale or chemistry of the Irish”. Instead of coming off as sincere or believable, Swarbrick instead sounded like Leslie Nielson in one of the Naked Gun movies telling people “nothing to see here, everyone move on” as a building, or in this case the 2016 Notre Dame football season, explodes behind him.
The point spread for this Saturday’s game opened with Notre Dame as 1.5 point favorite but quickly swung in the other direction and had Miami instilled as the one point favorite soon after. Even with the rash of injuries facing the Hurricanes I still expect them to come away with the victory in South Bend. They have a much better coach in Mark Richt, still have something to play with a legit chance at getting to a real bowl game, and at least statistically, clearly have the better team with Miami ranking higher then Notre Dame in total defense, rushing defense, passing defense, scoring defense, total offense, rushing offense and offensive scoring. Expect a big day for Brad Kaaya as he leads The U to a rare win and cover on the road against Notre Dame.
Mike M's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Miami -1
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