Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Temple Owls, Saturday Oct. 31, 8 p.m. ET
If you live in the right time zone, this game is perfectly timed for Halloween festivities - you can finish off handing out the candy or taking your kids out to trick or treat then settle in on your couch just in time for kickoff. I live in the Mountain Time Zone, though, so I'll be forced to check the score on my phone every so often as I take my son the dinosaur from door to door. Selfishly, then, I hope that's it's not that exciting of a game - at least not until the last quarter or so.
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It tells you something about this week that this is the game of the week. This is the only game between ranked teams, and five of the top seven teams are in a bye week. This is, hopefully, the calm before the storm. That's not to take anything away from this game, of course. A traditional power taking on an undefeated team that is pretty much exactly the opposite of a traditional power. It's a huge test for both teams, and it is sure to be emotional.
Notre Dame at Temple Betting Storylines
We can't talk about this game without starting with pressure. For the Owls this is a very big deal - and very unfamiliar ground. They are ranked for the first time since 1979. They opened with a home game against Penn State, beating their in-state rivals for the first time since 1941. That was a big game for the team, but there haven't been a lot since. They played at Cincinnati in Week 2 in a game that didn't move the needle outside the fanbases of the two teams, and then their last five opponents have been UMass, Charlotte, Tulane, Central Florida, and East Carolina. Hardly a murderer's row.
This is by far the toughest opponent they have played - it's not even close. More significantly, this is the first game in the lifetimes of any of the players on this team that the school has played a game that mattered to anyone outside of Philadelphia. They have no idea how to handle the pressure of a situation like this because they have never experienced a situation like this. For Notre Dame, on the other hand, every game is big. They play on national TV every week. This year alone they have already played buzz games against Texas, Georgia Tech, Clemson and USC. A trip to Philadelphia to play a marginally-ranked team won't even make them nervous. For Temple it will be the biggest football day of every player's life. That certainly does play into Temple's favor, and will almost certainly make it more difficult for Temple here than it might otherwise be.
I alluded it before, but now I'll just flat out say it - Temple hasn't played anyone. Their signature win was against Penn State - a team with an inflated record of their own thanks to another soft schedule. Cincinnati has lost to every halfway decent team they have played. UMass has one win - and lost to Notre Dame by 35 the week after Temple beat them by two. Charlotte has lost five in a row. Tulane has two wins and has been just crushed by every good team they have faced. Central Florida is winless. At 4-4, East Carolina is the best of their last five opponents - and they are lousy. Against even a respectable schedule Temple would have a loss or two. Against Notre Dame's schedule they would have three or four. We could spend as much time as we wanted comparing schemes, depth, matchups, experience, key players and so on. The fact of the matter is, though, that Temple isn't nearly as good as their record, and Notre Dame is. I am fascinated to watch this game not because it is likely to be an instant classic, but because in some perverse way I am excited about watching just how bad it could get for Temple. They are going to lose - it's just a matter of how badly.
Notre Dame at Temple Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Notre Dame favored by 9.5 points on the road. That has since climbed to 10.5 . About two-thirds of bets have been on the Irish, so the line movement isn't unexpected. The total sits at 50.
The Irish are 5-0 ATS in their last five games overall and in their last five games played on grass. Temple is 5-2 ATS on the season and 2-1 ATS at home. The teams last met in 2013. Notre Dame won by 22 at home but did not cover the 27.5-point spread.
NCAA Football Expert Picks Against the Spread: Notre Dame at Temple Predictions
Temple is a great story and a team moving in the right direction, but I don't see how they have a chance here. Notre Dame has been very focused against a tough schedule, and they have pretty much every advantage in this game. They have faced a ton of adversity this year due to injuries and other distractions, but they haven't wavered. Nothing they will face here will bother them. Notre Dame is the comfortable pick against the spread here.
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