Week three of the NFL is upon us. More importantly, though, is year three of the Brian Kelly reign at Notre Dame.
The third year under Brian Kelly has been where his teams begin to thrive. At Central Michigan, it was a 9-4 record and a Motor City Bowl. At Cincinnati, Kelly ran the table in the regular season and went 12-0. His Bearcats would win the Big East title and earn a bid to the Sugar Bowl.
Kelly left for ND before the Gators ruined Cinci 51-24, but it was back-to-back BCS bowls for Kelly. The 2009 Bearcats were probably the best team in the university’s history. Kelly used that momentum to land the job at Notre Dame and through two years, it’s been mixed results.
Two 8-5 seasons don’t have the alumni planning on building him a statue next to Lou Holtz, but year three has started out 3-0. After nearly a decade of the Irish having to have the ball last to win, this year the defense looks to be a strength.
If year three at Notre Dame is going to be the turn-around year, it must happen against Michigan this week. Two years in a row the last team with the ball has come out with the victory. Two years in a row it was Denard Robinson with the ball at the end of the game. Robinson has tallied a ridiculous 948 yards of offense in two games against the Irish. Twice he has put the Wolverines up with under 30 seconds left.
He has been a nightmare for the Irish defense and if year three is going to be different, they need to put the clamps down this year. Despite the toughest schedule in America, the Irish can put themselves in great position for a BCS bowl with a win this week.
I personally am scared to death of Robinson. He has ripped out my heart and fed it to me still beating two consecutive years, but I think this is the year the D is confident enough to make him one dimensional and end the three-year streak of heartbreaks.
Which brings us to Week Three of the picks. I see a Kelly-like turnaround in this column.
Overall 5-9 (3-3 last week)
NCAA (2-5, 1-2 last week)
Notre Dame -5 vs Michigan: A group of seniors have revenge on their mind (how’d that work for USC last week, you ask? Shut up). Michigan is allowing 211 yards a game on the ground and the Irish have Cierre Wood back in the mix. I see a game plan of pounding the rock down Michgan’s throats and as long as Robinson doesn’t go insane, the Irish will be victorious.
Clemson +14 @ Florida State: Yes, the FSU defense has been great, yes they are in the top five, but they have not been tested. Clemson is not Savannah State. I was off by about six points when guessing this spread. Too many points against their first real opponent. Clemson makes it four straight covers against the Seminoles in a close game.
Temple/Penn State under 44: The Penn State football team is a disaster. Their offense is laughable and this is going to be an ugly game, like it always is against Temple. Happy Valley is a miserable place and hopefully they get another miserable outcome. Take the under and check out the box score later, you want to part of this badness.
NFL (3-4, 2-1 last week)
Steelers -3.5 @ Raiders: Big Ben and company got back on track with a dominating win over the Jets in week two. The Raiders left Miami at halftime, unaware they had two more quarters to play. The Raiders are still the Raiders and the Pittsburgh defense should create enough turnovers to make this at least a touchdown win.
Ravens/Patriots under 49.5: The last four meetings have all gone under this week’s 49.5 number. Tom Brady has thrown for 250 yards just once against Baltimore and after both teams dropped their week two contests, I expect another tough physical game.
In its debut last week, the 49ers covered with ease in the LOCK OF THE WEEK.
Chargers -3 vs Falcons: Despite forcing four turnovers in the first quarter, the Falcons never put the Broncos away last week. They had to hold on for dear life and ended up with a 27-20 win. Ryan Matthews looks like he will make his 2012 debut and Antonio Gates looks to return from a week one injury. This should be a high scoring affair, but give me the home team against the dirty birds on a short week.
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