Notre Dame gets back to action tonight at 7:30 PM (eastern) on NBC, but there will be plenty of action before kickoff to keep you busy.
There will be plenty of games to pay attention to throughout the day. Games that should be quite entertaining, and games that could end up being very important for Notre Dame by the time we get to the final College Football Playoff decisions.
Irish Breakdown already made predictions for two huge games that we’ll be watching today. You can see our analysis of #1 Clemson vs. #7 Miami HERE, and #22 Texas vs. Oklahoma HERE.
Here are the other games I’ll be paying attention to today:
#4 Florida Gators (2-0) at #21 Texas A&M Aggies (1-1)
Time: 12:00 PM (eastern)
Line: Florida -5.0
If Notre Dame wins the ACC outright the odds are strong they will be a College Football Playoff team. The Irish getting in should they lose the ACC title game will mean they’ll need a lot of help, especially from the SEC.
Florida has looked like a legitimate SEC East title contender thus far. The ideal scenario for Notre Dame is the two teams that square off in the SEC title game each have at least one loss. Florida begins a four-game stretch this weekend that includes this road game against the Aggies, a home game against LSU and a neutral field game against Georgia.
An ideal scenario for Notre Dame is that Florida loses a regular season game and then beats Georgia, who also loses to Alabama when they square off October 17. If Alabama then loses a game you’ll have at least a pair of one-loss teams playing in the SEC title game.
Texas A&M is one team with a chance to beat Florida, but they’ll have to play a whole lot better than they did last weekend when they got crushed by Alabama. The Aggie defense needs to quickly recover against a Florida offense that is averaging 44.5 points and 495 yards per game in wins over Ole Miss and South Carolina.
#19 Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0) at #8 North Carolina Tar Heels (2-0)
Time: 12:00 PM (eastern)
Line: UNC -3.0
Virginia Tech is undefeated and putting up pretty good numbers on offense, but it’s strange watching them because they don’t look overly impressive. Then you look at the stat sheet and they’ve scored a lot of points and racked up a lot of yards.
Despite its quarterbacks completing just 47.6% of their passes through two games the Hokies are averaging 41.5 points after opening the season with wins over NC State (45-24) and Duke (38-31). Virginia Tech’s ground attack has been punishing, going for 314 yards in the win over the Wolfpack and 324 yards in the win over Duke.
North Carolina hasn’t looked like a Top 10 team in either of its two wins to start the season, but the Tar Heels showed grit and toughness in a hard-fought 26-24 win over Boston College last weekend.
Tar Heel quarterback Sam Howell has not been sharp in his first two games. He has as many interceptions (three) as he has touchdowns, including two in the season-opener against Syracuse. His inconsistency has kept what has the potential to be a potent offense from really taking off. If North Carolina is going to win this game it needs him to play a lot better.
For Notre Dame, the Tar Heels winning is the ideal scenario. Notre Dame will have no say on Virginia Tech’s regular season record since the two schools do not play. The Irish do play North Carolina, so they want the Heels to be ranked as high as possible, and beating Virginia Tech would keep them ranked high. It would also give a loss to a currently undefeated league team.
#14 Tennessee Volunteers (2-0) at #3 Georgia Bulldogs (2-0)
Time: 3:30 PM (eastern)
Line: Georgia -12.5
This game could mean something for Notre Dame should Tennessee pull off the upset, but I’m watching this game for different reasons. Is Georgia as good on defense as they looked against Auburn last weekend, or is Auburn as average as they looked the first two games?
I’m also curious to see how Tennessee handles this physical matchup, and how much growth they’ve shown since last season. The Volunteers picked up two quality wins to start the season, outlasting South Carolina 31-27 on the road to kick off the season, and then blasting Missouri 35-12 last weekend.
This would be the kind of program defining win that could make recruiting a whole lot easier for second-year Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt. A win for Georgia likely sets up a battle of Top 5 teams when the Bulldogs travel to Tuscaloosa next weekend.
Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1) at Boston College Eagles (2-1)
Time: 4:00 PM (eastern)
TV: ACC Network
Line: Pitt -6.5
Notre Dame plays both Pitt and Boston College on the road this season, so there is always the curiosity of seeing what future Irish opponents look like. With both teams having one conference loss already, this is also likely an elimination game when it comes to the ACC title game.
The Panthers were brilliant on defense the first three games, giving up just 10 points and 177 yards per game during their 3-0 start to the season. That included shutting down both Louisville and Syracuse. Pitt struggled a bit with NC State, giving up 30 points and 398 yards, which wasted what was by far the best offensive performance of the season for the Panthers.
Pitt took a 29-24 lead with 1:44 left in the game, and the way they play defense it appeared the game was over, but NC State went 79 yards on eight plays in just 1:21 for the game-winning touchdown.
Boston College battled North Carolina hard last weekend, and sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec has been quite impressive in his first three starts. This will certainly be his toughest test to date, and if he’s going to survive this game the Boston College offensive line will need to play a lot better. Despite high expectations, the BC offensive line has allowed Jurkovec to take a lot of punishment, and none of the defensive lines they’ve faced thus far are anywhere close to being as good as the Pitt front four.
Boston College needs to figure out a way to get the run game going and take some pressure off Jurkovec. Notre Dame fans should be rooting for Boston College in this game. BC is good enough to beat everyone else on their schedule except for Clemson. Should the Eagles win this game and upset Virginia Tech net weekend there’s a good chance they come into the Nov. 14 matchup against Notre Dame as a ranked opponent, which looks much better for the Irish playoff resume.
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