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Saturday Syllabus: MSU vs. Notre Dame, Not So Holy War, Stanford and Arizona State are Both Ranked

Mark Dantonio MSU

The meaning of life is that you have to make your own meaning. That’s especially true this weekend. The slate of games is bleak. We won’t patronize you with the usual twaddle about this being the weekend everything goes crazy. It may. It may not. If you have to catch up on some yardwork, this is the Saturday. If not, we’ll try to get you to care about a few of these games.

A Rivalry Worth Keeping… Sparty won a PR battle with Michigan. They also have a new quarterback, Connor Cook. The sophomore played well (15/22, 202 yds, 4 TD) against Youngstown St. But against FBS opponents, he’s averaging under three yards per pass attempt, worse than Andrew Maxwell. Their defense looks title caliber. If they can get it going on offense, look out. That “if” has been present for a while though. Notre Dame looks beatable on multiple fronts. It’s hard seeing them move the ball in this game, especially if they show as little pep as they did against Purdue. This series has produced nine one-score games since 2000 (though last two were comfortable ND wins). It’s the lowest over/under on the board. We’ll take the points in a slug-fest. [Pick: Michigan State +4.5]

USATSI_6877472_153192880_lowresThe Two-Year Truce… Utah wanted to play Michigan in 2014-15. Thus, the Holy War will be taking its first hiatus since World War II. Utes fans snuck in a late shot to the nuts, though, with a “die hard” ratting out BYU LB Spencer Hadley for an honor code violation. Thirteen of the last 16 meetings have been decided by one-score. Three of the last four were decide don the final play, including last year’s 24-21 win for Utah, that saw fans rush the field three times. Utah finally has a quarterback, with massive dual threat sophomore Travis Wilson. BYU’s defense is legit. Still some questions about whether the Cougars’ 122nd ranked passing attack can attack Utah where they are vulnerable. Six and a half points feels like a lot in this one. [Pick: Utah +6.5]

This was a rivalry there, for a bit.. If you’re in Gainesville, you could score a date with this lovely lady. Florida has won the last eight. They popped Derek Dooley’s balloon early last year, scoring 24 unanswered to win comfortably. Neither outfit impresses on offense. The Gators’ defense has thwarted 22 of 24 third down attempts, against live opposition. The -16.5 spread is a lot for the Florida offense to cover. But the Gators are coming off a bye week spent with an angry Muschamp. Tennessee is on its second-straight road trip, after flying cross country last week and chasing around Oregon. [Pick: Florida -16.5]

Both of these teams are ranked, at least… The line (Stanford -6.5) looks like a “Vegas knows something” situation. No one seems quite clear what that something is. Stanford is sort of like Wisconsin, except better, just about everywhere. ASU gave up seven-plus yards per carry against Wisconsin. Kevin Hogan is a better quarterback than Stave. ASU put up 468 total yards on Wisconsin, but took 93 plays to do it. Stanford has a defense tailored to stop the spread. The Sun Devils are also going on the road a week after taking a pounding. The Farm is not a devastating home field advantage. ASU has been tougher on the road than they get credit for. Still…don’t see ASU keeping this within one score. [Pick: Stanford -6.5]

A turning point, maybe… We don’t think Texas goes 1-10. Maybe here is where they get back in track. This is not last year’s Kansas State team. The Wildcats lost almost their entire starting defense. Texas’ snag has been stopping the read option. But Kansas State’s new quarterback, Jake Waters, is a pass-first quarterback. He has four rushing attempts through three games. The Longhorns have been…not terrible…against the pass. David Ash is back practicing. Mack may be a bit steamed after being undermined publicly. We say it happens. [Pick: Texas -6]

craig james you little league dad youReally Happening… SMU announced an 80s throwback night for Oct. 5. No word on whether this will involve cocaine, cash payments in envelopes or Craig James.

Other Picks

North Carolina (+5.5) at Georgia Tech: This game produced 118 points and more than 1,000 yards of total offense last year. UNC’s offense is better than the aggregate numbers. Not sure what to make of the Yellow Jackets, yet.

Connecticut (+18.5) vs. Michigan: The Wolverines got a scare last week. On the road this week, they focus, keep a cap on Devin Gardner and try to establish a conventional running game. Michigan wins, looks better, just fails to cover in the 31-14 range.

SMU (+28.5) at Texas A&M: Let down spot for the Aggies after the Alabama game. SMU is coming in off a bye. The Mustangs score enough to keep this within four scores.

Colorado State (+39) at Alabama: Let down week after Texas A&M. Saban does not expend unnecessary effort against overmatched opponents. He likely won’t run up the score against a former assistant.

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