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Miami Ohio

vs.

Notre Dame

College Football

Free Pick

9/30/17

Coming off a couple nice road wins, Notre Dame returns home to what’s expected to be the easiest game of the season. Miami (OH) may be one of the better teams in the MAC, but that doesn’t mean anything for this matchup. The Fighting Irish opened as large -21 point favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Irish are coming off a 20-point win in which they were outgained by 150 yards, but that just goes to show they can win in more ways than one. The spread for this game is surprisingly low, considering their previous three wins by 20-plus points came against better competition. Again, Miami may end up being a good MAC team, but the RedHawks already have losses to Marshall and Cincinnati, neither of which is an overly great team.

The most logical reason to back Miami would be because of the defensive side as they’ve been solid so far, keeping opposing run games in check. But playing the likes of Cincy and CMU can’t be compared to Notre Dame for a lot of reasons. The Irish have dominated early on through their running game with Josh Adams averaging 7.7 yards per carry for 499 yards and quarterback Brandon Wimbush not far behind with 366 rushing yards. As a team they are at 6.8 yards per carry and moved the ball fairly well on a solid Michigan State defense last week. This could turn into the type of game that Notre Dame rushes for another 300-plus yards and controls every aspect. There is some faith in the RedHawks defense based on the spread alone, but this will be by far their toughest test of the season.

There is another path to covering for Miami on the offensive end, but it’s going to take a huge performance. This is an offense that only managed 17 points against Cincy a few weeks back. Notre Dame has struggled to keep teams in check, but that hasn't mattered in the wins. Quarterback Gus Ragland doesn’t throw many interceptions, but his completion rate has fallen in the early games at just 52.6% so far after completing 64.2% of his passes last season. If he can’t complete passes against a team like Austin Peay, then it’ll be extremely tough to trust him on the road against Notre Dame. The RedHawks will try and get a run game going between Kenny Young and Alonzo Smith, but that’s not a guarantee to happen as neither has looked great against weaker competition, both at less than 4.3 yards per carry.

Unless Miami plays better than it has all season against its toughest opponent, Notre Dame should run out to an early lead and continue to pound the ball on the ground. After rushing for 400-plus yards against both Temple and BC, the Irish could easily reach those numbers again if all goes well. Backing the RedHawks would require having a ton of faith in Ragland and that’s not exactly a great route to take. Notre Dame -20.5

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