Massachusetts Minutemen(0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-3 SU, 2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Saturday, September 26th, 3:30 PM EST
Where: Notre Dame Stadium
by Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mass +28/ND -28
The 0-2 UMass Minutemen travel to South Bend to take on 3-0 Notre Dame in a battle of two teams on the opposite ends of the college football spectrum.
Last weekend Notre Dame was an underdog at home against Georgia Tech due in large part to the injury to starting quarterback Malik Zaire that thrust freshman DeShone Kizer into the lead role. Many believed the inexperience of Kizer would be too much to overcome considering that along with Zaire they had already lost their starting running back (Tarean Foster), tight end (Durham Smythe) and standout defensive end (Jarron Jones) to season ending injuries as well. Many were incorrect as Notre Dame dominated and won 30-22, at one point leading 30-7 midway through the fourth quarter before letting up two junk touchdowns to end the game.
Fosters replacement C.J. Prosise had his third consecutive impressive game, running for 198 yards and three touchdowns including a 91 yarder in the fourth quarter that sealed the game and was also the longest touchdown run in Notre Dame Stadiums illustrious history. Kizer managed the game well, throwing for a touchdown and 242 yards, more then half of which went to superstar wide receiver Will Fuller, who had six catches for a 131 yards and the games first score on a 46 yard pass from Kizer on their second drive of the game.
The defense for the Irish was the dominant throughout the game, until the final minute when they relaxed a bit too much and let up the two touchdowns. They limited Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas to only 121 yards passing (67 of which were on the final two drives against the always terrible prevent defense) and more importantly just 27 yards rushing, as the Irish defense shut down the vaunted Yellow Jacket option attack and thus their offense. It wouldnt be a 2015 Notre Dame game though without a starter getting hurt, as they lost safety Drue Tranquill to right knee injury he suffered while celebrating a pass breakup and is now the 6th Irish player to be lost for the season to injury, five of whom were starters. Thankfully they should have a good opportunity to avoid further injuries and hopefully give their better players some rest this week against Massachusetts.
Expectations were high in Amherst for the 2015 UMass football season as this was supposed to be their best team yet, spearheaded by the recent return of head coach Mark Whipple who led the team to a Division 1-AA National Championship back in 1998, his first year as head coach of the team. The Minutemen finished last year a disappointing 3-9, made especially worse by the fact that they continuously found ways to grasp defeat from the hands of victory, losing five games by seven points or less in some of the most frustrating ways imaginable such as; blowing a 41-14 halftime lead and falling 42-41 to a team that had lost 22 games in a row, their season long 4th quarter kicking game choke-fest, whether it be on chip-shot field goals or extra points, that got so bad the team passed up a game winning field goal from inside the ten to try and win with a touchdown because they had that little faith in their pathetic kicker. Even with all of that happening, not much could have prepared UMass and their faithful fans for their last second collapse against Temple this past Saturday.
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Massachusetts entered the game with a 0-1 record after an uninspired 48-14 loss against Colorado in week one and were a near two touchdown underdog to a Temple team that already had two upset wins of their own to start the season, beating Penn State in week one 27-10 and than winning at Cincinnati 34-26. Temple started well against UMass and appeared poised to take over the game early after scoring a touchdown late in the first quarter and than scoring another three minutes later following a UMass fumble, but the Minutemen were able to rally and tie the game by halftime and were down only 20-17 heading into the final quarter.
Neither team could get much going in the fourth and Temple looked to be in great shape as they had the ball on their opponents side of the field with under three minutes left when running back Jahad Thomas fumbled the ball and UMass recovered, scoring a touchdown eight plays later with just over a minute left to take a 23-20 lead. And than with the game seemingly in hand disaster struck for the Minutemen, as Temple blocked the extra point and with a couple of UMass players standing around watching like they were Donovan McNabb confused about the basic rules of football, the Owls returned the blocked kick for two points to make the game 23-22. So rather than having a four point lead with a minute left they were only up a point, and to further make matters worse, UMass was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play and had to kickoff from their own twenty yard line. As expected, Temple drove straight down the field and kicked a game winning field goal. Last year I described being a UMass football fan as going to the proctologist and getting a root canal at the same time. Nothing has changed.
Notre Dame faces the ultimate sandwich game against the Minutemen this week as they are coming off a big win against Georgia Tech and will travel to Death Valley next week to battle the Clemson Tigers. They havent done well recently versus a big number against inferior competition, going just 2-8 against the spread as a double-digit favorite and this week are giving a whopping 28 points against UMass. Its difficult to lay that many points in any game but after last weeks last minute defensive lapses for Notre Dame, I think coach Brian Kelly will have them plenty ready to play four full quarters of football and they should be able to name the score against UMass. Bet this game and ALL college/pro games at reduced odds -105 (instead of the spend -110 that your book is hammering you with! Find this hugely valuable offer at 5Dimes.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Notre Dame -28