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NY Post
New York Post
9 Sep 2023


NextImg:College football predictions: Take a shot on these three underdogs

Alabama waxed Middle Tennessee State last week, but I’m unimpressed by the victory.

MTSU lost a ton of its 2022 production in the offseason.

I remain skeptical about Alabama.

While the Crimson Tide boast blue-chip talent after signing the nation’s best recruiting class, they have no experience.

I also hate both coordinator hires (DC Kevin Steele and OC Tommy Rees), and quarterback Jalen Milroe is no Bryce Young.

Texas has one of the nation’s best all-around rosters.

Ten offensive starters from last year are back, and the Longhorns made savvy portal moves to replace lost defensive production.

Quinn Ewers needs to improve, but he has the support staff to capitalize on his potential, including five returning offensive linemen and a deep receiver corps.

Texas lost to Alabama by one point last season as a three-touchdown home underdog.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe
AP

That entire Longhorns team returns with revenge on their mind.

Texas figures to improve, while Alabama should regress, especially early in the season.

The pick: Texas +7.

This is an excellent situational spot.

The Wolfpack have had two more days of preparation and rest than Notre Dame after they played on Thursday last week.

They also have two full games of film on the Fighting Irish.

Meanwhile, The Wolfpack kept the playbook close to their chest against Connecticut, running the ball 46 times to 26 passing attempts.

Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman

Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman
Getty Images

They’ll have some tricks up their sleeve for Notre Dame, tricks the Irish won’t be prepared for.

A key figure in this game is Wolfpack defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.

Sam Hartman faced this Gibson-led defense thrice at Wake Forest, posting a 6-6 TD-to-INT ratio while getting sacked 13 times on 156 dropbacks, or 8.3 percent of the time.

Against everyone else, Hartman has 100 TDs, 35 INTs and a 5.8 percent sack rate.

North Carolina State has some key situational advantages, and it can catch the overvalued Irish sleeping after two dominant victories against low-level opponents (Navy, Tennessee State).

The Scarlet Knights can’t score.

They have a dangerous dual-action quarterback, Gavin Wimsatt, and a solid offensive line to create rushing lanes.

But Wimsatt is an ugly passer (career 46.7 percent completion), so Rutgers fields a bottom-10 FBS aerial attack.

Rutgers isn’t built to win by double digits.

While the Knights’ defense always shows up, opponents don’t have to score much to keep games close.

Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt

Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt
AP

I’m betting Temple will do that behind quarterback E.J. Warner.

Warner took over the starting job against Rutgers in Week 3 last season as a true freshman and never looked back.

He improved greatly, ending the year with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions over his final four games.

Temple lost 16-14 to Rutgers last season, but the Owls outgained the Knights by 63 yards.

If it weren’t for a costly pick-six by a true freshman quarterback in his first career start, Rutgers would’ve dropped that game.

Warner and the Owls shouldn’t ever fall outside the number.

Last week: 2-1. Alabama (W), North Carolina (W), Colorado State (L).
2023 season: 2-1.