NCAA Football Predictions: Week 7 Opening Line Report and Picks
Want to know why Notre Dame doesn't want to join any conference full time in football (it is a pseudo-member of the ACC, playing five games per season against foes from that conference)?
One obviously is that the Irish don't have to share any of their TV revenue from their unprecedented deal with NBC (home games only) with other conference members. Notre Dame also likes to think it's "above" everyone else as the national Catholic football team in America.
Another big reason, and it's part of the school's national appeal, is that Notre Dame wants to be able to play Southern Cal, Stanford and Navy every year. The Irish will always have one game in California each season - i.e. either USC or Stanford visits South Bend every year but never both - and Irish backers believe that only helps in recruiting. Frankly, I think that used to be the case when Notre Dame was the only school on TV every week but not sure it is any longer. Still, it's easy to see the logic.
With all due respect to Army-Navy, USC-Notre Dame is the best and most storied nonconference rivalry in the country, and it's renewed on Saturday night from South Bend. It really doesn't matter whether Southern Cal wins or not - the Trojans already have two losses so they aren't making the College Football Playoff. Obviously, this result wouldn't affect USC's chances of reaching the Pac-12 title game. It would dent the conference's reputation even further, though, were the Trojans to get destroyed. They have a bit of an advantage here in coming off a bye, but USC also is 0-2 on the road.
No question it's big for the No. 9 Irish, who beat up on Bowling Green in a glorified scrimmage in Week 6. They played well in a loss to No. 3 Georgia a couple of weeks ago, so their CFP chances are still very much alive should the Irish win out. All of a sudden, the schedule is opening up for them, too. The only currently ranked team left on it is Michigan. Virginia Tech, Duke and Stanford are all down. That's one problem with Notre Dame not playing in a conference, however: One fewer game to impress the CFP committee.
The Irish opened as 11.5-point favorites for this one. I'd take the points as I don't see them winning by more than 10. Here are a few other Week 7 opening lines that caught my eye. Games Saturday unless noted. Picks are ATS.
No. 20 Virginia at Miami (-1), Friday: At ACC Media Day, Virginia was just barely picked to win the ACC Coastal Division over Miami. UVA is 2-0 in the conference with wins at Pittsburgh and vs. Florida State, so all good there. The Wahoos have a very easy schedule remaining. They have a big advantage here coming off a bye. The Hurricanes are a disappointing 0-2, so their Coastal hopes are for sure gone with a loss. They have lost their past four against a Power 5 opponent. Head coach Manny Diaz says he will be more involved with the defense this week after UM allowed 42 points to Virginia Tech on Saturday. That program is going backward. Last year, Miami lost 16-13 at Virginia to start a season-crushing four-game losing streak. The Canes outgained the Cavs 339-235. Each team turned it over three times. Pick: Virginia.
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas (+9.5): The Red River Whatever They Are Calling It These Days (Showdown, Classic, Shootout, Rivalry) from the neutral-site Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Clearly the game of the year in the Big 12. While Oklahoma has been the better program over the past several years, UT always plays the Sooners tough and usually covers the spread. The Horns were 48-45 upset winners in this game last year, but then OU got payback in the Big 12 title game with a 39-27 victory. Conference officials have to be rooting for Oklahoma here because an OU loss might already kill the Big 12's CFP hopes. There's a small chance Texas could make it if it wins out, including beating the Sooners again in the conference title game. Pick: Texas.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 24 Texas A&M (+17.5): Both schools off a bye week. Finally, the Tide are playing a quality opponent. Have you seen their schedule? Look, you can't help the conference foes you play, but Duke, New Mexico State and Southern Miss out of conference? That's ridiculous. No wonder the closest Alabama win this year has been by 24 points. Tua Tagovailoa has been absurd, throwing for 1,718 yards, 23 touchdowns and no picks while rushing for two scores. Texas A&M already has lost to then-No. 1 Clemson and No. 8 Auburn and still has to play Georgia and LSU. Yikes. The Aggies won the first meeting in this series as SEC foes thanks to Johnny Manziel but haven't since. They won't here, either, but will put up a fight. Pick: A&M.
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