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Notre Dame lands speedy CA receiver’s commitment

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Notre Dame’s offense this season has relied on the running game. Its passing attack has been serviceable, at best. Yet the Irish success and the coaching staff behind it have impressed consensus three-star receiver Geordon Porter (Etiwanda High School; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) enough for the California speedster to commit to Notre Dame on Wednesday.

“I like the coaching staff there and the good academics,” Porter told Blue & Gold Illustrated. “It’s a great school to get a degree from, and they’ve got a good balanced attack on offense with running the ball, play-action and all that good stuff.”

Porter chose the Irish over Arizona State and Utah, both of which he visited more recently than his trip to Notre Dame to watch the 20-19 loss against Georgia on Sept. 9. He also held offers from Alabama, Georgia and Washington State.

The No. 47 player in California and the No. 67 receiver in the country, per rivals.com, Porter excels in track, as well. As a junior, he ran a 10.61-second 100-meter dash. That interest may continue in college, but it did not seem to determine much of his recruitment. Rather, Porter expressed a distinct desire to use his speed to find his way to the NFL and wanted to join a program that would best aid in that endeavor.

Porter is the 18th commitment in the Irish class of 2018 and the third receiver, joining consensus four-star and mid-August commit Kevin Austin (North Broward H.S.; Coconut Creek, Fla.) and Rivals four-star and mid-February commit Micah Jones (Warren Township; Gurnee, Ill.). The trio will join a receiver depth chart laden with youth and lacking much of a future pecking order.

Current sophomores Chase Claypool and Kevin Stepherson will lead the way in 2018, along with current junior Equanimeous St. Brown, presuming he returns for his senior year. Junior Chris Finke has played well in limited time this season, but his eligibility will run out before any of the 2018 commitments are desperate for snaps.

Opportunities, and competition, will await Porter, Austin and Jones.

Notre Dame’s best-case and worst-case CFP scenarios

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A poll the eve of November does hardly a national champion crown.

It does, however, create a prism through which to view the rest of the season. Notre Dame’s No. 3 ranking in the initial College Football Playoff selection committee poll released Tuesday night puts the Irish in a good position. It is certainly preferable to Clemson’s slot at No. 4, and the peace of mind chasm between No. 3 and No. 5 is akin to the gap between Notre Dame and its last six opponents.

The sky-is-falling view — the one coming in just a few paragraphs — should not change that. Oklahoma fans are wracking their minds with fret today. If the Sooners win the Big 12, could that really not be enough to get into the Playoff? What if they shut out Oklahoma State twice? Would that mean more than the Irish beating up to three Power Five conference champions? That can’t be right. What if it is right? Oh!klahoma.

There is no need for Notre Dame fans to worry that much, but there may be reason for them to worry, nonetheless, even with an 11-1 finish. Call it the looming Sooner situation.

First, a best-case scenario for the Irish moving forward through the next five poll updates. This may seem a bit outlandish. That is the point of the exercise, to establish the extremes and acknowledge their results.

There is a universe, and it may be this one, where No. 14 Auburn beats No. 1 Georgia on Nov. 11 and No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 25. Both games are at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Don’t for a moment think beating the Bulldogs and the Tide in the span of three weeks is beyond the realm of possibility. From there, the Tigers proceed to the SEC Championship game and knock off Georgia once more.

Meanwhile, No. 17 USC and No. 21 Stanford sweep their remaining conference schedules out west to meet for the Pac 12 title. No. 24 Michigan State upsets No. 7 Penn State, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 9 Wisconsin to claim the Big 10 championship. No. 20 North Carolina State upsets No. 4 Clemson this weekend, as does No. 10 Miami to No. 13 Virginia Tech, and the Wolfpack and the Hurricanes meet for the ACC crown.

Suddenly, Notre Dame will have beaten the winners of three different Power Five conferences and seen the two teams ahead of it in the current poll fold at the next sign of genuine competition. The Irish would finish the season the top-ranked team in the country.

No one of those results would be terribly shocking. If all 10 came to be, that would be a version of chaos few would embrace, but Notre Dame surely would relish. The only remaining question would be, if the Irish can choose, do they prefer to head to the Rose Bowl or the Sugar Bowl for their semifinal. The committee attempts to send the No. 1 team to the location that would better resemble home-field advantage. Considering this lunacy would likely result in both Iron Bowl participants landing in the Playoff along with either the ACC’s victor or the Big 12’s, it may make the most sense to send Notre Dame to the Rose Bowl.

The Irish in the country’s most stunning football stadium on New Year’s Day as the top-ranked favorite? Yes, that would qualify as a best-case scenario for Brian Kelly and his charges.

Now, the worst-case scenario, the looming Sooner situation.

Baker Mayfield could lead Oklahoma to dash Notre Dame’s playoff hopes, even without the Irish losing a second game in 2017. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma will have up to three more ripe chances to impress the committee, at No. 11 Oklahoma State on Saturday, vs. No. 8 TCU the following week and then a date with one of those two, or perhaps No. 15 Iowa State, in the Big 12 championship game.

If Oklahoma won all those games, it would be able to claim four of the more notable wins of the season, especially if Ohio State runs the Big 10 table, including a win over the Spartans.

If Michigan State lost to the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions these next two weeks, a three-game losing streak might become four games against Maryland on Nov. 18.

USC very well might fall to Khalil Tate and Arizona this weekend, giving the Trojans a third loss on the season and the Pac 12 South division to the Wildcats. Stanford has to travel to No. 25 Washington State on Saturday before hosting No. 12 Washington next Friday. That combination could be a recipe to drop the Cardinal to 6-4.

North Carolina State follows this weekend’s date with Clemson by traveling to Boston College and then Wake Forest, two of the ACC’s upstarts. Losing two of those three would begin to diminish the luster of Notre Dame’s 35-14 victory over the Wolfpack just this past weekend. While discussing the ACC, Miami has barely scraped by to get to 7-0. Even just two blemishes to the Hokies and the Irish would render the Hurricanes’ first two months a sham in most eyes.

In this scenario, Notre Dame could finish the year 11-1 but be able to claim only one or two top-25 wins, likely a fallen USC and a stumbling Miami. Oklahoma would boast of the aforementioned four. Clemson would cite a win over Auburn, two wins over Virginia Tech and maybe finishing the regular season over South Carolina could have weight by then. The Gamecocks should finish 8-4 with neither great wins nor bad losses.

Would it be a sure thing both the Sooners and the Tigers would jump the Irish in the committee’s eyes? Absolutely not. It would certainly be reasonable, though. Those 13 dominos are unlikely to all fall, but they could. They most definitely could. The toughest to believe among them is Maryland beating Michigan State, and that is also the least vital to this sequence of events.

Claiming Notre Dame controls its own destiny both misunderstands the meaning of destiny and is inaccurate. The Irish do not exactly need help, but they do need November to follow a reasonable path. They would prefer the Big 12 to continue trading losses like the kitschy alarm clock at a white elephant gift exchange. They would like either Stanford or USC to at least reach the Pac 12 championship, and the same could probably be said of North Carolina State and Miami in the ACC. Of the latter duo, even just finishing the season respectably strong may be enough. If Michigan State can notch an upset along the way, all the better.

Oddly enough, this would likely still send Notre Dame to the Rose Bowl.

That may be the most-realistic scenario, which also means it has no chance of happening. This is college football, after all.

A schedule of CFP releases:
Tues., Nov. 7, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Tues., Nov. 14, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Tues., Nov. 21, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Tues., Nov. 28, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sunday, Dec. 3, 12-4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Notre Dame at No. 3 in initial CFP poll

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In the first version of the only poll that matters, the 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee ranked Notre Dame at No. 3, behind No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama. Clemson rounded out the top four, establishing the frontrunners for the four spots in the 2018 College Football Playoff.

Obviously, there is a long time to go before the theoretical delights of Clemson vs. Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and Notre Dame vs. Alabama in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

These rankings are based on what has happened so far this season. It sets a baseline to be altered by games to come. For example, committee chairman and Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt pointed to the three Irish wins over top-25 opponents as a distinguishing factor to support Notre Dame.

Any loss would certainly knock the Irish or Tigers out of the top four, with No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 Ohio State ready to jump into the fray. Impressive and noteworthy wins from the latter two could also change the tentative playoff outlook.

Notre Dame has a trip to No. 10 Miami (FL) in two weeks and then heads to No. 21 Stanford to close its season. Irish coach Brian Kelly knows the No. 3 ranking will be meaningless if his team falters in either of those games or against Wake Forest this weekend or vs. Navy on Nov. 18.

“I felt like if we continued to win football games we would create our own story at the end of the year,” Kelly said during the ESPN broadcast revealing the rankings. “It’s really been one narrative for us and that is each and every week we have a dominating mindset when we come to play.

“We haven’t really talked much about winning football games. Our guys are excited. They’re 18- to 21-year olds, … but they have been grounded to the point that each and every week they know what they have to do if they want to continue to have the success that they have had.”

Clemson visits No. 20 North Carolina State this weekend and will likely face a top-25 opponent in the ACC title game, presumably the winner of Saturday’s tilt between Miami and No. 13 Virginia Tech.

Oklahoma could pose a threat to those two one-loss teams ahead of it, with up to three top-25 contests remaining: at No. 11 Oklahoma State, vs. No. 8 TCU and, if atop the Big 12, either one of those two again or perhaps No. 15 Iowa State in the conference championship game.

Ohio State has the fewest remaining chances to impress the committee, only hosting No. 24 Michigan State on Nov. 11 and possibly No. 9 Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

In addition to the five Irish opponents mentioned already, USC is ranked No. 17.

Notre Dame among the dozen looking at the Playoff, though, it is still October

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With Notre Dame’s inevitable interest in the release of the first College Football Playoff selection committee poll tonight, conversation focuses on that and much else can be forgotten.

Quickly on that forgotten note, Irish coach Brian Kelly said all injuries, with one exception, from this weekend should be non-issues by the time Notre Dame takes the field against Wake Forest (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC). Junior tight end Alizé Mack’s availability will hinge on his progress in the concussion protocol. He will attempt a cardio workout today (Tuesday), usually a significant barometer in that process.

If Mack is unavailable against the Deacons, Kelly insisted the Irish offense will hardly miss a beat.

“[Freshman] Cole Kmet is ready to go. He’s chomping at the bit,” Kelly said Tuesday. “… [Senior] Nic Weishar’s role will activate, and [fifth-year] Durham Smythe is playing his best football of his career.

“… We feel good about what the next options are for us.”

As for the poll, released at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, Kelly would not take the bait as to how high he thought Notre Dame should be ranked.

“It’s hard for me to judge the other teams,” he said. “I know Georgia is a really good team, and I know Notre Dame. So I’d have Georgia one, Notre Dame two, and then there’s no other teams.”

Wherever the Irish land, Kelly’s focus remains the same and he expects as much from his team. Carrying forward a theme from this past weekend, Notre Dame is not concerned with its record, only its performance.

“Winning is not even something that we think about,” Kelly said. “I’ve got to tell you, I’m honestly giving you the truth in this answer.

“We just want to dominate this weekend. If we do that, we’d like three more chances. Then, at the end of the year, if they say that that’s one of the four best teams, that will be fine. We’re just looking to dominate this weekend.”

The Irish can focus on the dominating. That will not stop the poll from coming out tonight. Kelly’s mention of three more games after Wake Forest reinforces a valid point, though. Tonight’s poll is not the destination. Whether Notre Dame lands at Kelly’s No. 2, a more realistic No. 3 or a surprising but somewhat understandable No. 5, no one is awarded a Playoff spot because of the Halloween rankings.

Thus, any discussion of the poll and the contenders should include looks forward to what awaits each of those teams. At this point in the season, it makes more sense to break down the remaining contenders by conference to set the table for coming attrition. There is a discussion to be had about where the 7-1 Irish belong among 7-1 and defending national champion Clemson, 7-1 Oklahoma and 7-1 Ohio State. Those four teams will presumably make up Nos. 3-6 tonight.

Spending too much time on that discussion at this point misses two facts: It is highly unlikely all four finish the season with only one loss, reducing some of the consternation, and only the selection committee’s opinion actually matters.

For example, that latter reason is why Kelly no longer votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

“The committee, to me, made my vote obsolete in the sense that they could do such a better job of evaluating truly the top teams in the country,” he said. “I could get a cursory view of it and a look at it, but I couldn’t do the kind of job that the committee can do from 1 to 25.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 12 remaining national title contenders, broken apart by overlapping futures more than claims to date.

The Undefeated and Unquestioned, otherwise known as the SEC.
Neither Alabama nor Georgia has lost. Only the latter has faced a genuine test, its 20-19 victory at Notre Dame.

The order of these two does not matter. If one falls before the SEC title game — both still have to play Auburn — the blemished will fall from its perch. If both arrive to their 13th game with identical 12-0 records, the SEC champion will be guaranteed a Playoff entry. The competiveness of that game, not tonight’s ordering, will likely determine the other’s bowl destination.

The ACC 3: Miami, Virginia Tech and Clemson.
Miami earns top billing here simply because it remains undefeated. That will be tested this weekend against the Hokies and next weekend with Notre Dame visiting. If the Hurricanes win both of those and proceed to claim the ACC, they’ll make the Playoff. There is no need to complicate that.

Virginia Tech’s hopes would hinge on running the table — which includes a trip to Georgia Tech next weekend — and exacting revenge on Clemson in the ACC title game. If the Tigers do not make the ACC championship, the Hokies’ hopes probably dwindle, as well, unless national chaos reigns. This is college football, after all. Anarchy is always just a Saturday away.

Clemson’s loss at Syracuse is but a blip on the radar when compared to dominating wins at Louisville and at Virginia Tech, a victory over Auburn and a trip to North Carolina State this weekend. (And remember, starting quarterback Kelly Bryant missed much of that Orange defeat.) If the Tigers run the table, it is hard to imagine the selection committee would deny the reigning champions a chance to defend that title.

The Mess of the Big 12: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU.
Oklahoma has the only non-conference win of note among this trio, traveling to Ohio State and emerging with a 31-16 victory on Sept. 9. The Sooners’ loss to Iowa State looks better now that the Cyclones also knocked off TCU. Iowa State will get its chance at Oklahoma State on Nov. 11.

The Cyclones’ rise complicates the entire conference’s hopes. If Oklahoma can run the table, beginning at Oklahoma State this weekend, and perhaps get revenge on Iowa State in the Big 12 title game, a valid claim to a playoff spot would emerge. If not, with all other aspects of these résumés being equal due to the conference’s round-robin format, it is difficult to envision any one of the three pulling away enough to challenge Clemson or a Big Ten champion for a Playoff spot.

The Big Ten Dichotomy: Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Ohio State has a résumé and a loss. Wisconsin has neither. That’s why college football developed conference championship games, though. Where the Badgers land remains a superfluous note until they do or do not finish the season 13-0. A loss, any loss, will knock them from these conversations entirely.

The Buckeyes can now claim a win against Penn State to counterbalance their loss to Oklahoma, but other than that their claims are thin. A combination of a conference title and the eye test may be enough to give Ohio State a boost with just a bit of national aid.

The Pac One: Washington.
The Huskies likely need national chaos. Their non-conference schedule featured wins at Rutgers, vs. Montana and vs. Fresno State. That will not separate a 7-1 Washington from the other one-loss teams in the country. Winning the Pac-12 will not, either, as it appears to be a conference filled with good but no great teams.

Oh, and Notre Dame: Victories over three six-win teams set the Irish apart, and they will have the chance to grow that total to at least five, with both Miami (FL) and Stanford already holding such records. Obviously, as time passes, the metric will rise, but Notre Dame’s overall schedule will pass nearly any test put to it.

For context: Alabama’s only victory over a six-win opponent is Colorado State. Georgia has beaten both the Irish and Mississippi State, and Clemson claims two in Auburn and Virginia Tech.

A Voting Note
Some mention of the committee’s voting procedure should be included here. If Notre Dame lands at No. 3 tonight, that mechanism may deserve some of the credit. The Irish appear to be a pretty clear-cut top-four team at this point. Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State stack up well with each other — and, to an extent, with Notre Dame. One of them has to land at No. 6. As the committee votes, the odds are the Irish receive a combination of No. 3 and No. 4 votes. Those other three, meanwhile, will have ranges from No. 3 to No. 6.

That alone could elevate Notre Dame above them this week. As that trio becomes a duo and then possibly just one, all due to the nature of college football, the Irish hold on a Rose Bowl spot will become more tenuous.

It is this same thinking that makes it somewhat unlikely any of the Big 12’s hopes crack the top-four this week. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU will siphon support from each other, lowering their Halloween ceilings.

Let’s remember that holiday-turned-adjective. It is still October. All of this matters only so much.

A Prediction
Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Clemson. That is who it should be, in this scribe’s opinion, too. For that matter, may the college football universe be only so lucky as to have the season end with that exact order. The dueling rematches in the semifinals would be storylines to make December fly by.

Notre Dame’s Opponents: Six still hold conference title hopes

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How Notre Dame’s complete slate of opponents fares each week is becoming less and less important. A few of them remain pertinent to any discussions regarding worthwhile wins, but at least half the schedule is merely conversational filler at this point. If some of those entries become briefer with time, that is the reasoning.

Just how many times can it be said North Carolina is having a terrible season, anyway? And is that a harsh reflection on the word terrible?

As a whole, Irish foes fared well last weekend, finishing 6-2 when not including Notre Dame’s defeat of North Carolina State. This coming weekend does not bode to conclude as well, with only three favored of nine playing (again, not including this week’s Irish guest, Wake Forest). Four of those underdogs, though, could notch season-altering wins and further bolster any Notre Dame claim to a schedule so strong it warrants inclusion in the College Football Playoff despite its blemished record.

Temple (3-5): The Owls return from their bye all-but needing a win to keep bowl hopes alive. Undefeated No. 15 Central Florida awaits Temple on Nov. 18. If presuming that is a loss waiting to happen, the Owls need to win all their other games, including Thursday against Navy (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). As eight-point underdogs, though, that seems somewhat unlikely. A combined points total over/under of 55 equals a 31-23 conclusion.

Florida’s defense had absolutely no answer for Georgia senior running back Sony Michel. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Georgia (8-0): Some of these entries are getting shorter because the teams are plain bad. The summaries of the Bulldogs’ victories get repetitive because they are brutally-familiar at this point. Georgia beat Florida 42-7 on Saturday, jumping out to a 42-0 lead thanks to two forced turnovers and 137 yards and two touchdowns from senior running back Sony Michel. He needed all of six carries to inflict that damage.

The Bulldogs cruised so easily backup Gators quarterback and former Notre Dame starter Malik Zaire attempted one pass fewer than Georgia starter Jake Fromm did. Fromm finished 4-of-7 for 101 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Bulldogs did not need him much. Zaire finished 3-of-6 for 36 yards in the blowout.

Now Georgia readies for one of its toughest challenges of the season in South Carolina (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS). Despite the Gamecocks presenting a stiffer test than Florida may have, the Bulldogs are favored by a whopping 24.5 points in a game with a low over/under of 46. A 35-10 finish may be accurate, but the game itself will hardly be that competitive.

Boston College (5-4): Who are these Eagles and what did they do with the bumbling Boston College seen earlier this season? To extend their winning streak to three, the Eagles routed Florida State 35-3 on Friday. Freshman running back AJ Dillon led the way with 33 carries for 149 yards and a touchdown, part of a ground effort that gained 241 yards on 55 attempts, holding the ball for 35:15.

Not to be outdone, the Boston College defense forced three turnovers.

Eagles head coach Steve Addazio can enjoy this victory for a bit with Boston College on bye this weekend.

Michigan State (6-2): Spartan hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff fell by the wayside thanks to a triple-overtime 39-31 loss at Northwestern. Michigan State sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke did all he could to keep the Spartans in the game, throwing for 445 yards and a touchdown on 39-of-57 passing, but his offense managed only 95 rushing yards and turned over the ball three times.

Michigan State’s hopes of winning the Big Ten remain intact, though. That path commences at noon ET on Saturday (FOX) against Penn State. The Spartans are 7.5-point underdogs with an over/under of 49. If they could find a way to turn the tables of a 28-21 conclusion, they would still control their own chances at winning the conference.

Miami (OH) (3-5): The RedHawks come off their bye week hoping junior quarterback Gus Ragland is healthy enough to lead an upset of Ohio tonight (8 p.m. ET, ESPN 2). That’s right folks, we have reached the time of year when there is football on national television each and every night of the week. It will not last long, so enjoy the luxuries provided by MACtion while they last.

Miami is a 9.5-point underdog with an over/under of 55.5, hinting at a 32-23 final score.

North Carolina (1-8): The Tar Heels actually had a chance against Miami (FL) on Saturday, but they could not convert two early scoring opportunities to their maximum potential, instead settling for field goals to take a 6-0 lead. The Hurricanes then responded to take a 17-6 lead and that was about that en route to a 24-19 Miami victory. The score wasn’t even that close, with a late touchdown diminishing North Carolina’s deficit.

Here is the good news for the Tar Heels: They will not lose this week. They have it off.

Trojans junior quarterback Sam Darnold can keep USC’s conference title hopes alive with a victory over Arizona and emerging Heisman-hopeful quarterback Khalil Tate this weekend. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

USC (7-2): In a year in which the Rose Bowl will not necessarily host the traditional Big 10 champion vs. Pac-12 champion matchup, Notre Dame is still watching those two conferences intently. Much like Michigan State’s, the Trojans kept their conference hopes alive by topping Arizona State 48-17. Junior running back Ronald Jones ran for 216 yards and two touchdowns on only 18 carries while junior quarterback Sam Darnold threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-35 passing. Their performances were all part of a 607-yard offensive explosion.

USC will all-but settle the conference’s South division this weekend against Arizona (10:45 p.m. ET, ESPN). In a contest between last year’s midseason sensation (Darnold) and this year’s, Wildcats sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate, the elder is favored by seven points with an outlandish, if it wasn’t in a #Pac12AfterDark situation, over/under of 73. A 40-33 contest could last well into Sunday morning. It will obviously last even longer if even more points are scored, which seems quite possible.

North Carolina State (6-2): The Wolfpack can still win the ACC after falling to Notre Dame 35-14 this weekend. That decision will take a large step in one direction or the other against Clemson on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). As a touchdown-underdog with an over/under of 51, North Carolina State surely wants to flip the tables on a 29-22 outcome.

Wake Forest sophomore receiver Greg Dortch will miss the rest of the season due to injury, an announcement made only days after Dortch repeatedly torched Louisville’s defense to spark the Deacons to a 42-32 victory Saturday. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)

Wake Forest (5-3): The Demon Deacons arrive in South Bend high from a 42-32 victory over Louisville. Depending on your view of the perceived success or failure of the Cardinals’ season, that win may not mean much, but no matter how it is viewed, Wake Forest beat one of the ACC’s recent powers, something it had not done since a 6-3 win in double overtime against Virginia Tech in 2014.

Senior quarterback John Wolford leaned on sophomore receiver Greg Dortch to keep pace with Louisville. Dortch finished with 167 yards and four touchdowns on 10 catches while Wolford threw for 461 yards and five scores on 28-of-34 passing, an average of 13.56 yards per attempt.

Dortch has since been ruled out for the season, a crucial loss for the Deacons as they head to Notre Dame as 13.5-point underdogs with a current over/under of 57. (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC.) If anything, a 35-21 final would make Wake Forest the first Irish opponent to break 20 points this season. That seems unlikely.

Miami (FL) (7-0): The Hurricanes did not need another nail-biting finish, but they still got off to a slow start in slipping past North Carolina 24-19.

Miami will essentially play for its conference division title against Virginia Tech (8 p.m. ET, ABC). It should be a close one, which may play into the Hurricanes’ favor. They certainly are not fazed by a competitive fourth quarter, even if 2.5-point underdogs with an over/under of 50. A 27-24 conclusion would be worth watching before flipping over to USC and Arizona, even if the Hokies knock Miami from the ranks of the undefeated.

Navy (5-2): The Midshipmen exit their bye with a short week, heading to Temple on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Favored by eight, Navy should come out ahead in a 31-23 evening.

Stanford (6-2): Without junior running back Bryce Love (ankle), the Cardinal baaaaaaarely managed to get past Oregon State on Thursday, scoring a touchdown with 20 seconds left to win 15-14. The score came only thanks to a Beavers fumble to set up a short field.

Stanford will risk a five-game winning streak at Washington State as two-point underdogs (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). A 55-point over/under creates a theoretical final of 28-27 in the Cougars favor.