Notre Dame can't afford to let its guard down after Saturday's narrow loss at Clemson. Navy is 4-0 and scored 34 and 39 points in its last two games against Notre Dame, and with triple option whiz Keenan Reynolds still running the Mids' offense, Week 6 looks awfully tricky for the Irish.
We'll look at how Navy and Notre Dame's other past and future opponents fared over the weekend, but first, a quick power ranking:
1. Clemson (4-0)
2. Stanford (4-1)
3. USC (3-1)
4. Navy (4-0)
5. Temple (4-0)
6. Pitt (3-1)
7. Boston College (3-2)
8. Wake Forest (2-3)
9. Texas (1-4)
10. Georgia Tech (2-3)
11. Virginia (1-3)
12. UMass (1-3)
On to the results:
Texas (1-4): Lost, 50-7, to TCU
Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard combined to complete 13 of 28 passes for 122 yards while TCU gouged the hapless Longhorns for 604 yards. Texas is a below-average side that’s faced (and lost to) four top-25 schools, but that’s no excuse for a program with more money and recruiting muscle than anyone else in college football. They’re careening toward being rendered ineligible for a bowl by the end of October if things don’t turn around.
Virginia (1-3): Bye
Unless Mike London’s crew comes out of its bye week with some major improvements, the ‘Hoos won’t come close to bowl eligibility and will be looking for a new coach in two months.
Georgia Tech (2-3) Lost, 38-31, vs. North Carolina
The Yellow Jackets, with a triple option offense that’s supposed to be designed to hold leads, was ahead of UNC 21-0 in the second quarter and 28-17 in the third quarter. But Tarheels quarterback Marquise Williams and running back Elijah Hood (a one-time Notre Dame commit) engineered a furious comeback that saw three unanswered touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to pull ahead in Atlanta. Georgia Tech has lost three games in a row and only has wins over Alcorn State and Tulane this year. They’ve gone from a resume-building win for Notre Dame to, well, one that’s not exactly inspiring from a strength-of-schedule standpoint.
UMass (1-3): Won, 24-14, vs. Florida International
Kudos to Mark Whipple for earning UMass its first win of the season and sixth since joining the FBS level in 2012. FIU ranked No. 127 in Jeff Sagarin’s ratings, though UMass entered the week at No. 178, so this is a decent win for the Minutemen under the circumstances. Still, nobody’s mistaking UMass for a quality opponent — they’re no different in terms of strength of schedule ratings than an FCS team.
Navy (4-0): Won, 33-11, vs. Air Force
The Commander in Chief Trophy was locked up by Navy behind Keenan Reynolds’ 183 yards on 24 carries, which paced the Mids’ triple option to 5.3 yards per carry. Don’t sleep on Navy heading into this weekend; at 4-0, they’ve done everything right heading into a classic trap game for the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium.
USC (3-1): Bye
After throttling Arizona State last week, USC got a weekend off to prepare for its Thursday home date against Washington Oct. 8. Expect the Trojans to win that game and head to Notre Dame as a top-15 team.
Temple (4-0): Won, 37-3, at Charlotte
Temple held the 49ers to four conversions in 17 third-down attempts and rushed for 206 yards in a throttling of a bottom-feeding Conference USA opponent. There’s not a whole lot to read into here, and the Owls should be favored to beat Tulane, UCF and East Carolina before welcoming Notre Dame to Philadelphia on Halloween.
Pitt (3-1): Won, 17-13, at Virginia Tech
Running back Qadree Ollison picked up 122 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while Pat Narduzzi’s defense held Virginia Tech quarterback Brenden Motley to an abysmal line: 9/20, 91 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT.
Wake Forest (2-3): Lost, 24-16, to Florida State
Wake Forest’s offense flailed away at Florida State and had a chance to tie things up late, for what it’s worth. This wasn’t a bad loss for Wake Forest, but when it’s considered a major improvement the Deacs averaged 3.94 yards per carry, it’s a sign this program still has a ways to go under Dave Clawson. More worrying: Wake won’t be favored to beat Boston Collge, North Carolina, N.C. State or Louisville before playing Notre Dame, then ends the season at Clemson and home against Duke. 2-10 is a real possibility, no matter how valiant Saturday’s effort against the ‘Noles was.
Boston College (3-2): Lost, 9-7, at Duke
The Eagles’ defense continued to stifle opponents, holding Duke to 33 yards on 35 carries, but Troy Flutie and Jeff Smith combined to complete eight of 21 passes for 141 yards in a brutal offensive game for the Eagles. This is a team that lost its starting quarterback (Darius Wade) and running back (Jon Hillman), so there’s a least an excuse for how bad they’ve been. Hillman may return this year; Wade will not.
Stanford (4-1) Won, 55-17, vs. Arizona
Another big day for the Cardinal offense, with Kevin Hogan completing 17 of 19 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns and Christian McCaffery rumbling for 156 yards on 17 carries. How, exactly, did these guys only manage six points in a season-opening loss at Northwestern? That seems to be a mystery as they go all scorched earth on a Pac-12 North division that very well could come down to them and Cal. Let’s keep the band off the field this time.