The odds of Notre Dame facing a top-25 opponent at home this season jumped over the weekend. Both USC and Virginia used 2-0 starts to crack the rankings at Nos. 24 and 25, respectively. They should each have tougher tests this weekend, either strengthening that newfound status or dropping them back out as quickly as they arrived.
Louisville (1-1): The Cardinals got head coach Scott Satterfield his first win at his new gig with a 42-0 pasting of FCS-level Eastern Kentucky.
Though the name may be similar, the challenge will be far greater against Western Kentucky (4 ET) in Nashville. Nonetheless, Louisville is favored by eight points, as of the early a.m. on Wednesday, with a combined point total over/under of 51.5. A 30-22 conclusion could easily swing on one mishap of a play.
New Mexico (1-0): The Lobos took a week off and in that time head coach Bob Davie at least appeared in front of both the team and the media after a health scare sent him to the hospital following their season-opening victory on Aug. 31. Davie will not make the trip to No. 7 Notre Dame (2:30 ET; NBC); offensive line coach Saga Tuitele will serve as the acting head coach for the week.
This line has settled at 34.5 points in favor of the Irish with a point total over/under of 63.5, suggesting Notre Dame should win 49-14. The last time the Irish won by at least 35 points was Oct. 21, 2017, against then-No. 11 USC, which was coincidentally by that exact score.
Georgia (2-0): The No. 3 Bulldogs early-season slate featured another blowout, 63-7 against FCS-level Murray State. Interestingly enough, Georgia did not jump all over the Racers from the start. The first quarter ended with a 7-7 tie. Of course, the Bulldogs then led 42-7 at halftime.
That trend should continue against Arkansas State (12 ET; ESPN2), though that 33-point spread is not a slight of the Red Wolves, but rather a testament to how good Georgia is. A 58-point over/under hints at a 46-12 result. Given Arkansas State is one of the schools that puts the fun in the Sun/Fun Belt, scoring a couple touchdowns would not be utterly outlandish.
Virginia (2-0): The now-No. 25 Cavaliers were not tested by FCS-level William & Mary in a 52-17 victory, even though senior quarterback Bryce Perkins broke a streak of 145 pass attempts without an interception by throwing two. Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall has since expressed a lack of concern about Perkins’ sloppiness, putting more stock in the streak than in the momentary lapse.
Florida State (7:30 ET; ACCN) will hope Mendenhall is mistaken. The Cavaliers are favored by 7.5 points, a number limited by preseason expectations and recruiting rankings. If it was based solely on performances thus far this season, Virginia would have a double-digit edge. A 56-point over/under leads to a 32-24 projection. Given Seminoles’ first-year offensive coordinator Kendal Briles’ success thus far (averaging 38 points), it would be quite a testament to Mendenhall’s defense to hold Florida State to only three touchdowns.
Bowling Green (1-1): Not much needs to be remembered from the Falcons’ 52-0 loss at Kansas State in which they gained all of 140 yards.
A season to forget for Bowling Green will continue against Louisiana Tech (5 ET; ESPN+) as 10-point underdogs. The Falcons will need to rediscover their offensive footing to score enough for a 34-24 finish to match a 58.5-point over/under.
USC (2-0): The Trojans made a statement, simple as that, with a 45-20 rout of Stanford. After falling behind 17-3, freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis led USC on a 42-3 run. In his first career start, Slovis completed 28-of-33 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns, including eight passes to sophomore Amon-Ra St. Brown for 97 yards and two scores.
The Trojans now take the risk of heading to BYU (3:30 ET; ABC) as 4.5-point favorites. How USC fares against the Cougars will serve as a pertinent comparison point preceding next week’s visit from Utah, which will possibly be the deciding contest in the Pac 12 South, no matter how early it is in the season. The Utes squeezed past BYU 30-12 thanks to a turnover-filled oddity. A 55.5-point over/under argues the Trojans should match those 30 points.
Michigan (2-0): Presumably, anyone reading this space knows the now-No. 10 Wolverines needed double overtime to slip past Army 24-21. Michigan senior quarterback Shea Patterson fought a vague oblique injury to complete only 19-of-29 passes for 207 yards, but arguably more concerning is that it took freshman running back Zach Charbonnet 33 carries to reach 100 yards against an undersized Black Knights defense.
The Wolverines have the week off to regroup.
Virginia Tech (1-1): The Hokies exacted revenge for a 2018 upset with a 31-17 win against Old Dominion. Virginia Tech led 24-3 in the third quarter before the Monarchs tightened things up, as tends to happen in college football. Senior quarterback Ryan Willis completed 16-of-28 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, adding one more score on the ground.
The Hokies would figure to now relax for a week against FCS-level Furman (12 ET; ACCN), though the Paladins are on the better side of the second-tier division, as exhibited by Virginia Tech being favored by only 21.5 points with a 64.5-point over/under. It would be a bit of a surprise to see Furman outscore Old Dominion against the Hokies, as math expects at 43-21.
Duke (1-1): The Blue Devils had no trouble with FCS-level North Carolina A&T in a 45-13 showing led by fifth-year senior quarterback Quentin Harris scoring four total touchdowns and accounting for 428 total yards.
Duke now becomes the rare Power Five to visit a Group of Five program with a trip to Middle Tennessee State (7 ET; Facebook). Nonetheless, the Blue Devils are favored by 6.5 points with an over/under of 50.5 implying a low-scoring, 28-22 affair.
Navy (1-0): The Midshipmen spent the week in practice preparing for East Carolina (3:30 ET; CBSSN). Navy is favored by a touchdown, and as it will need just about every win it can find to reach bowl eligibility, that edge should not be taken lightly. The over/under of 53.5 wonders if the Midshipmen can score four touchdowns.
Boston College (2-0): The Eagles continued an offensive explosion to start the season in a 45-13 win against FCS-level Richmond. Junior quarterback Anthony Brown needed only eight completions to gain 163 yards and three touchdowns, while junior running back AJ Dillon took 17 carries for 86 yards and two scores.
The fireworks should continue Friday against Kansas (7:30 ET; ACCN). Boston College is favored by 21 points. To be blunt, the Jayhawks do not stand a chance. Continuing their -3 turnover differential will be a death knell against this Eagles offense, which might challenge the 53-point over/under on its own.
Welles Crowther was a former lacrosse player whose trademark was a red bandana.On Sept. 11, 2001, he led people to safety. This is his story.
Posted by ESPN on Tuesday, September 11, 2018
(Editor’s Note: This article originally mistakenly stated Friday is Boston College’s “Red Bandanna Game.” That is actually Nov. 9 against Florida State. That said, there is never a bad time to watch the above video, a story of Sept. 11 heroism.)
Stanford (1-1): USC’s gain was the Cardinal’s loss late Saturday. Things got worse this week when possible All-American left tackle Walker Little was ruled out for the year after surgery was needed for a dislocated knee.
The good news? Senior quarterback K.J. Costello will return to action at No. 17 Central Florida (3:30 ET; ESPN). Even with Costello, Stanford is a 7.5-point underdog. If he cannot lead the Cardinal to more than 27 points, they may have a problem slowing the Knights enough.