Presto’s Picks: Catholics and convicts clash

WASHINGTON — Miami vs. Notre Dame. The series originally began as a way to give the Fighting Irish fans a warm-weather November destination on the odd-numbered years when they weren’t visiting USC. And then, to everyone’s surprise, the intersectional rivalry heated up in the 1980’s with “Catholics vs. Convicts” T-shirts, Jimmy Johnson running up the score, and the two schools swapping national title runs. From 1987 to 1990, the Irish and ‘Canes went a combined 85-12, each playing in New Year’s Day bowl games every season. And then…they stopped playing.

While the Lou Holtz era is a distant memory and the Hurricanes have dealt with multiple crippling probations since the 80’s, this matchup still raises one’s eyebrows.  Notre Dame fans still look at Miami as obnoxious “new money”, while the Hurricane faithful view the Fighting Irish as “holier than thou” front-runners.  Add into the equation that there are a lot of people who hate both schools for precisely those reasons, and you have two teams that need to play more often.  Now that the Irish are a semi-member (actually a full member in every sport but the one you’d want them to be) of the ACC, this will happen a lot more often.

#17 Virginia Tech (7-2, 3-2 ACC) at Georgia Tech (4-4, 3-3), 12:20 p.m. (ACC Network)

What is it with this new “12:20” window? Can’t the ACC Network begin its early games at noon like the rest of us? If the Big Ten can start games at 11 a.m. local time in Madison and Minneapolis, what’s the delay? Makes me yearn for the good old days on Jefferson-Pilot. Despite last week’s loss to unbeaten Miami, the Hokies’ defense leads the conference in rushing and total yards allowed, while yielding the fewest points per game. The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC in rushing offense and commit the fewest penalties in the league, but have trouble rushing the passer (13th in the league) and are 109th nationally in turnover margin. Sounds like Annapolis South.

Presto’s Pick: Hokies handle things, 27-13

Maryland (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten) vs. #21 Michigan (7-2, 4-2), 3:30 p.m. (B1G Network)

Terps quarterback Max Bortenschlager may have a concussion…or a shoulder injury. When asked which it was coach DJ Durkin said, “It was a third down — he was trying to get the first down and took a pretty good hit right there,” and “I think he was just competing trying to get the first down-he took a hit there.” So much for clarity. If Max can’t go, walk-on Ryan Brand will be the fourth starting quarterback of the 2017 season, and he’ll face a Wolverine defense whose 32 sacks lead the Big Ten. Michigan running back Karan Higdon has rushed for 200 yards twice in league play…which is bad news for a Terp defense that allows the most yards and points in the conference.

Presto’s Pick: Terrapins tumble, 31-16

Navy (5-3, 3-3 AAC) vs. SMU (6-3, 3-2), 3:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

The Midshipmen are free-falling after three straight conference losses. They’ve gone from the “can they contend for a West Division title?” to the “they’re going to qualify for a bowl…right?” conversation thanks to a turnover prone offense and a soft pass rush. The Pony Express isn’t walking through that door for the Mustangs, but SMU does boast the AAC’s leading receiver in Trey Quinn (90 catches for 921 yards and 7 TD).  The ‘Stangs are also more of a match defensively for the option offense, leading the AAC in red zone defense with a +12 turnover margin.

Presto’s Pick: Midshipmen fall, 31-24

Virginia (6-3, 3-2 ACC) at Louisville (5-4, 2-4), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Expect plenty of points, as the Cardinals lead the conference in passing, total yardage and scoring. They’re also near the bottom of the league in most defensive categories and have coughed up 28 or more points in four straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have reverted to last fall’s “break but don’t bend” defense that coughed up big plays, allowing 30+ points the last three Saturdays. Defending Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson might not be on track to claim another statue, but the junior is completing passes at a higher rate and gaining more yards per carry this fall. UVa is also coming off its sixth win of the year, and might just be exhaling now that they’ve clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011. Kippy & Buffy plan on exhaling at the tailgate with a bottle of Carlisle Winery 2011 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel: “Drop-dead gorgeous aromas of cherry, herbs, and spice box spill from the glass. Full bodied with an explosion of red cherry fruit. Suave tannins build through the long finish.” Unfortunately one does not see a happy finish at Papa John’s Stadium.

Presto’s Pick: Cavaliers come up short, 43-31

Howard beats Norfolk State, Georgetown falls at Bucknell, Towson tops William & Mary, James Madison tops Richmond.

Last Week: 5-4

Overall: 58-21

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up