Notre Dame vs. Temple: Irish Have the Edge for Our College Football Picks

Willie Bee

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 8:37 PM GMT

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015 8:37 PM GMT

Lee Corso and the ESPN Game Day crew are going to be in Philadelphia for the Notre Dame, Temple matchup, and we're there as well with a preview and free college football pick.

 

When most folks glanced at the college football schedules earlier this season, very few circled the Halloween meeting between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Temple Owls as a big game. I, for one, remember thinking that it'd be better to see the schools hit the hardwood at Liacouras Center than to a gridiron in the City of Brotherly Love.

There might be a few fans looking at the prime-time ABC broadcast right now and thinking the notoriety of the Irish is the only reason for national coverage.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Lincoln Financial Field and Saturday's 8 PM (ET) boot. Temple, as it turns out, can play football after all. In fact, it's the Owls who bring an undefeated record into the scrape while Matt Ruhle summons up the ghost of legendary coach Pop Warner on what should be a memorable night in Philadelphia, one way or another.

Ruhle can use all the help he can get against Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish if the early college football odds are any indication. Notre Dame went out as high as -11½ before early faith in Temple brought that down to 9½-10 early Tuesday evening. The total has seen a corresponding uptick, starting at 49 and currently 51 at 5Dimes, 50 at other shops.

Just the second meeting ever in the series, ESPN is bringing its circus, aka College Game Day, to Philly for this clash that pits No. 9 ND against No. 21/22 TU. Watch Lee Corso try to turn this into a longstanding rivalry with his theatrics. Temple actually hung pretty well with Notre Dame when the squads collided in 2013, the Owls' first season under Ruhle. The Owls fell, 28-6, but had enough to cover as 27½ point underdogs and keep the final well below the scoreboard tally of 52½.

 

Question 1: Can Irish Run On Temple?
Notre Dame (6-1 straight up & against the spread) has done a good job of covering a lot of public backing this year, the lone exception being that hiccup at Virginia early on, a game the Fighting Irish won by one touchdown when favored by two on the road. It was also the game they lost quarterback Malik Zaire for the season with a busted ankle, which came a week after Notre Dame saw top tailback Tarean Folston lost with a Week 1 knee injury.

Considering those devastating blows, it's something of a small wonder Kelly's crew is 6-1 outright, much less against the college football odds. Notre Dame's lone loss came to what appears to be a stronger Clemson team than I first thought this year despite picking the Tigers to win the ACC, and QB DeShone Kizer along with RB CJ Prosise have stepped right in for their fallen comrades.

Irish hopes in this game -- both SU and ATS -- depend on getting past one of the toughest defenses in the country. Temple allows a little more than 300 yards per game (14th), and just over 90 of that comes on the ground (6th). I expect Kelly to throw various blocking schemes at Temple's front and use Josh Adams on misdirection dives to try and soften the wall.

 

Question 2: Can Owls Move At All Against Irish D?
Temple (7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS) does have a solid defense, but how long will that unit be on the field Saturday night? I'm thinking a lot since the Owls will have to play the game of their lives on offense to score 17 points on their own.

Not to mention, the stop unit is going to be thinned on the backup side, meaning first and second lines have to stay in longer, giving Kizer and ND's offense an extra edge. Lineman Sharif Finch (knee) and safety Will Hayes (hamstring) are both questionable.

Fall should be in the air this Saturday in Philadelphia, the forecast several days in advance of the game calling for partrly cloudy skies, the thermometer around 52º at kick and not enough westerly wind to speak of. Can't help myself; I'm in love with chalk this week so my free college football pick is on the Gold.

My pick: Notre Dame -9.5 at BetOnline

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