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College Football Pick
In what can only be billed as must see TV, The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame take on the Oklahoma Sooners in Prime Time Saturday Night, in Oklahoma. The Sooners are a hefty -10.5 point favorite with a total of 48.5 at 5 Dimes Sportsbook and the early betting action at the world's largest sportsbook, sportsbook.ag, is heavy on the Sooners to the tune of 63%.
After a couple suspect wins over Stanford and BYU, Notre Dame will have their biggest test to date when they travel to Norman, OK to face the Sooners. This game pits the No. 5 team against the No. 8 team in the BCS rankings. The Fighting Irish bring what many call one of the best defenses in the country, allowing fewer than 10 points per game. Oklahoma also has a stout defense giving up 15 points per game, but their offense is what makes the headlines. The Sooners are scoring close to 45 points per game and have won their last three games by a combined 108 points since losing to Kansas State a month ago.
The Irish, on the other hand, only score about 25 points per game and have only won their last two contests by a combined 10 points, including a seven-point overtime win over Stanford. Their one and only true road test came at Michigan State against a team with a first-year starting QB that is struggling. Oklahoma's only loss came in Norman and they will want to make sure not to lose two games in front of their own fans this season.
Quarterback Landry Jones is having yet another quality season for Oklahoma in his final year. While his touchdown totals are down with only 12 through six games, his interceptions are down as well with only three. He's been a lock to hit at least 250 passing yards in every game for a couple TDs. It will be very important for him to get into the end zone as Notre Dame has only given up two offensive TDs in their last five games. Running back Damien Williams will also need to get something going on the ground. Williams has stacked up 552 yards at 7.5 yards per tote with seven TDs on the season, but didn't help out much against Kansas State with only 34 yards on 10 carries. The Sooners ground game will have to make more of a dent on Manti Te'o and company to give Jones better passing lanes. In those passing lanes will be Kenny Stills who's had at least six receptions in every game but one this year. He has 38 on the year for 471 yards and four TDs.
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On the other side of the ball, the Sooners have been solid never allowing more than 24 points in Big 12 play. Those 24 points were given up to probable Heisman candidate Collin Klein who produces over 40 points per game for K State. They also kept Texas Tech and Texas quiet for the majority of their games. Notre Dame will need to figure out something because they may not be able to win this game on defense alone. In their five toughest games this year, the Fighting Irish did not need more than 20 points to pull out wins.
At quarterback it looks like Everett Golson is back and ready to start for the Irish. Due to Golson's concussion, Tommy Rees started against BYU last weekend and he managed 117 yards with a TD and INT. Golson's numbers aren't much better through the season with only 968 yards, four TDs and three INTs. In pressure situations at Michigan and Michigan State, he struggled to complete passes and was eventually benched against the Wolverines. Running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood will need to have big games once again if Notre Dame wants to move the ball. The two combined for 257 yards against BYU.
The Fighting Irish are a disappointing 3-7 ATS vs. a team with a winning record while the Sooners are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games. Most Notre Dame numbers point to the under. It has hit six straight times for them this season and it is 5-1-1 in their last seven road games. The under is 5-0 in Oklahoma's last five games in October and 4-1 in their last five non-conference games.
Our numbers show Notre Dame as having played the more difficult schedule so far, yet their numbers are very good. Oklahoma has a yards per point number offensively of 10.9 which is good for 8th best in the nation while the Irish are 78th with a 14.9. Edge to the Sooners. Defensively, Notre Dame is #1 with a spectacular yards per point number of 29.8 while Oklahoma is a very respectable 16th with a ypp number of 19.7. Obviously if there is going to a problem for Notre Dame in this game, it's going to be with their offense.
But remember, the Sooners have had Kansas, UTEP, Florida A&M and Texas on their schedule to pad those offensive stats, so the jury is still out on just how powerful the Oklahoma offense is.
The closest the Sooners have come to a defense as good as Notre Dames would be Kansas State, and the Sooners only managed 19 points in that game, their lowest point production of the season, and they lost that game, also at home. If Notre Dame can do as good of a job defensively as Kansas State did, then the +11 in this game looms very large.
When we run our model using season to date stats it comes up 15-15. That would suggest that not only is Notre Dame the right side, but the under is also worth a good look. For now, we'll just make a side play. The numbers point towards the Irish. Notre Dame +10.5
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