Nobody should be rooting harder for Notre Dame the rest of the season than Cincinnati. The fifth-ranked Bearcats passed their big test last weekend by beating the Fighting Irish and open American Athletic Conference play Friday night at home against Temple. Cincinnati should be a comfortable favorite in most of its remaining games, with only No. 24 SMU currently ranked. Cincinnati’s victory against Indiana already looks as if it won’t be much to brag about as regression has its way with the Hoosiers in 2021.
If the Bearcats are to make the case to the College Football Playoff selection committee that they can beat the top teams in the country, No. 14 Notre Dame needs to remain one of those. The Irish bring their struggling offensive line and uncertain quarterback situation to Virginia Tech on Saturday to face a Hokies team that is similarly challenged offensively. The Irish are 101st in the country in yards per play at 5.10. Virginia Tech is 105th at 5.02.
Notre Dame’s schedule going forward is best described as tricky. No ranked teams but few pushovers. Given the state of the Irish through five games, anything from 8-4 to 10-2 seems like a reasonable prediction for Notre Dame. The low end of that curve would hurt Cincinnati as much as it would the Irish. The picks, with lines provide by FanDuel Sportsbook: Thursday No. 15 Coastal Carolina (minus 19 1/2) at Arkansas State