It’s the final night of elite 8 action in the SGPN College Football Tournament. Yesterday was madness as both underdogs took down the favorite with Utah knocking off LSU in Death Valley as a 7.5 point underdog on the road.
Tonight could be no different as Notre Dame has already pulled one big upset on the road at Wisconsin in Madison. Can perhaps the Irish make it two in a row? Then you got the Baylor Bears hitting the road looking to pull off another big upset in Columbus, Ohio against a Ohio State team that struggled last week.
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Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Clemson Tigers
Line: Clemson -10
Sunday 5pm PST
The Irish already did it once. They went into Madison, Wisconsin as a underdog and not only won but won in convincing fashion. The Irish were led by their star quarterback Ian Book and a solid outing from running backs Jafar Armstrong & Tony Jones Jr. Receiving wise the fighting Irish and Book connected with targets like tight end Cole Kmet or wideouts Chase Claypool and Chris Finke which really opened up the Notre Dame attack. If there’s an advantage the Irish have against Clemson it’s perhaps Cole Kmet against the linebackers or safety’s of Clemson. Look for Brian Kelly to try to take advantage of that early and often.
Defensively, the Irish must start with slowing down star Clemson running back Travis Etienne. Sure, Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence is as good as they come but shutting down Etienne and making Lawrence throw the ball is perhaps the best way to beat the undefeated Clemson Tigers. Look for Irish linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to be around the ball for every Etienne carry. The Irish will also need a big game from their top defensive lineman Khalid Kareem who led Notre Dame in sacks during the regular season.
For Clemson it’s going to be who should get the ball this game. It’s no secret the Tigers have great players at every position. Yes, the offense runs through the success of the run game and Travis Etienne but it’s not like they struggle when Trevor Lawrence is forced to go to the air. Clemson is stacked at wideout with players like Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, & Amari Rodgers. It’s going to be tough for Notre Dame to be able to matchup with those three targets.
Defensively Clemson is loaded per usual. Defensive tackle Tyler Davis is a force to be reckoned with and perhaps the most important matchup could be star linebacker Isaiah Simmons against Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet. Simmons is a jack of all trades linebacker with great pass coverage skills. Simmons leads the team with interceptions and sacks so Ian Book will always have to know where he’s at on the field.
Clemson is a force there’s no doubt about it but Notre Dame isn’t Louisiana Lafayette. Give me the Irish and the points and the over.
Baylor Bears @ Ohio State Buckeyes
Line: Ohio State -3.5
Sunday 7pm PST
Ohio State rallied and avoided the biggest upset in SGPN tournament history against Florida Atlantic. Ohio State didn’t look the part but perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. They escaped with a win and I’m sure that was quite the wake up call for the Buckeyes.
The Baylor Bears already pulled off one upset in a hostile enviroment by handling the Oregon Ducks in Eugene. Can the Bears do it yet again? The Baylor offense was up and down in Eugene and at times the Bears starting quarterback Charlie Brewer looked great. However, there were times when he looked like every ball was a fringe interception. Brewer is going to need to play a more consistent game if the Bears want any shot at winning in Columbus.
Brewer might not of thrown a consistent game but his legs kept the Bears rushing attack moving with a solid outing. However, the real star of the game for the Baylor offense was running back Tresten Ebner who absolutely dominated the game against the Ducks. When Ebner missed a few possessions backup JaMycal Hasty continued the ground success. Perhaps the biggest story to this game will be if Ebner and perhaps Hasty can continue to have success on the ground? Brewer was shaky at times throwing the ball but the Bears do have a top notch elite wideout in Denzel Mims who had a solid outing against the Ducks in a possession receiver type mold which he’s not really accustomed too.
Defensively the Bears are going to need to contain Ohio State star QB Justin Fields and luckily the Bears have two of the nations best linebackers in Terrel Bernard and Jordan Williams who should get after Fields and company. Bernard and Williams combined for 19 sacks on the season and will certainly be tested by the mobile Fields.
Ohio State sure struggled last week but it’s a new week and the Buckeyes have the talent to not only win this game but win the whole entire tournament. The Buckeyes starting quarterback Justin Fields got injured last game so perhaps the Buckeyes back off some on running the ball so much with Fields. JK Dobbins had a quiet game against Florida Atlantic so perhaps this is his time to shine. Fields struggled to throw the ball but when he did complete passes it was to Chris Olave, Austin Mack & KJ Hill. This is where the Buckeyes could really give Baylor fits. If Fields can be more accurate and be given the time to throw the Buckeyes should roll.
Defensively, Ohio State struggled some as well with a very weak game from star defensive end Chase Young and linebacker Malik Harrison. The Buckeyes defensive line must win up front against a run heavy Baylor team. If they can make the Bears throw the ball and open up lanes for perhaps Chase Young to rush the quarterback the Buckeyes will roll.
After last week I’m selling Ohio State as a fraud. Give me the Baylor Bears to cover and win outright and I’ll take the under. Brewer must have a decent game but I believe he’s got it in him.