Two of the top ten teams in the College Football Playoff standings square off this Saturday afternoon (3:30pm ET) when the 10th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1) travel to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ to take on the 9th ranked Arizona St. Sun Devils (7-1) of the PAC-12 Conference in a game that should draw plenty of national attention. Notre Dame rebounded from their week 8 last-second loss at Florida St. (31-27) with a 49-39 shootout win on the road over Navy last week. The Irish have also defeated Syracuse (31-15) on the road this season. Arizona St. is red-hot coming into this game, winners of 4 in a row since their 62-27 beat-down at home at the hands of UCLA in week 5. Last week ASU outlasted then-17th ranked Utah 19-16 in overtime at home; they have also bested USC (38-34), Stanford (26-10) and Washington (24-10) on the road during their current streak.
The Fighting Irish rank 29th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 35.3 points per game and 33rd in total offense with 458.3 yards per game. Quarterback Everett Golson looked sharp earlier in the year, but over the last 5 games he has thrown 7 interceptions and has had issues with fumbles particularly on the road. The Irish rank 28th nationally in scoring defense with 21.6 PPG allowed and 41st in total defense with 359.1 YPG allowed. Notre Dame has lost linebacker, and defensive leader Joe Schmidt for the season with a broken ankle.
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Arizona St. ranks 36th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 34.4 PPG and 22nd in total offense with 483.6 YPG. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has returned from injury to lead ASU, but he has struggled against Washington and Utah completing only 56% of his passes with 3 TDs and 2 INTs. ASU ranks 49th nationally in points allowed with 24.1 per game and 58th in total defense with 385.3 YPG allowed.
Notre Dame vs. Arizona St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish +2.5
@Arizona St. Sun Devils -2.5
Over 60 (-110)
Under 60 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.ag
Notre Dame vs. Arizona St. Pick:
The Fighting Irish and Sun Devils both have the type of offensive weapons to exploit the opposing defense, and this game is vital to both teams if they have any hope of securing a spot in the first-ever college football playoff. Golson may have his issues with turnovers, but he has still been extremely productive, and has led the Irish to a 17-2 record as a starter with those losses coming to the last two National Champions. He was one penalty call away from upsetting the Seminoles on the road, and last week against Navy he became the first Notre Dame quarterback to throw for 3 TDs and run for 3 in the same game.
Kelly has looked rusty for the Sun Devils since his return form a foot injury, and has been living on the edge. This may very well be the game where his play costs ASU the game, as he put the ball in jeopardy several times against Utah last week. It is tough to bet for either team with both having issues with turnovers and inconstancy on offense, but both offenses have tremendous big-play potential and this should be the game where they break out with ND suffering a key injury on defense and Kelly entering his third game back under center. Kelly has wide receiver Jaelen Strong and running back D.J. Foster in his arsenal, and he should be able to put up some points against the Irish. Golson should also have a big day regardless of any turnover problems, as he has all season long. Take the OVER here.