NCAA Games of the Week: Another weekend of upset possibilities

Nathan Hiatt,

Sports Blogger,

@NATE_HIATT

Syracuse at No. 8 Miami (FL) (2:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN)

Syracuse upset defending national champions Clemson last weekend, leaving the Hurricanes as the lone unbeaten team in the ACC. Miami (FL) hasn’t had the most challenging schedule, but its past two games have come down to the wire. It scored a touchdown with 19 seconds left to beat a diminished Florida State team. Also, last weekend the Hurricanes made a field goal with 4 seconds left to beat Georgia Tech. Syracuse has an explosive quarterback and wide receiver duo with Eric Dungey and Steve Ishmael. Ishmael leads the NCAA with 62 catches, and he is third in receiving yards with 802. If Miami (FL) doesn’t perform better, Syracuse might catch it slipping for the upset.

Prediction: Syracuse 30, Miami (FL) 24

No. 19 Michigan at No. 2 Penn State (6:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC)

(Penn State, Flickr)

ESPN College GameDay will travel to Happy Valley to witness the Nittany Lions host Michigan. This matchup is intriguing; the Wolverines have struggled on offense, but they are first in total defense. Penn State, same as the Hurricanes, hasn’t had a difficult schedule. It was tested in Iowa, which the Nittany Lions won on a last-second touchdown pass. Heisman hopeful Saquon Barkley has looked impressive, but he hasn’t compiled the best statistics as a running back. He has been contained the past few games, including against Northwestern. Barkley was held to -1 rushing yards in the first half and finished with 75; he has helped his cause with catches and kickoff returns. Barkley has 649 rushing yards , which is far behind Bryce Love, the leader, with 1,387. Barkley against the Michigan defense will be the matchup to watch.

Prediction: Michigan 17, Penn State 13

No. 11 Southern California at No. 13 Notre Dame (6:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC)

Southern California might have escaped with a win against Utah last weekend, but its chances are slipping to help a Pac-12 team make the College Football Playoff. The conference has imploded. Washington State lost 37-3 to California and Washington lost 13-7 to Arizona State last weekend. Southern California has only one loss, too, which was to Washington State. The Pac-12 has no room for error, and traveling to South Bend will be tough . Notre Dame, which has just one loss as well, 20-19 to now-No. 3 Georgia, has an explosive running attack. The Fighting Irish have the seventh-best rushing attack, having 1,848 yards, 23 touchdowns and averaging 309 yards per game. Running back Josh Adams leads the charge with 776 yards. If Southern California wants to avoid an all but College Football Playoff eliminating loss, quarterback Sam Darnold must play well.

Prediction: Notre Dame 37, Southern California 27

ozone@ocolly.com

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