“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out.  Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.” Pete Carroll 

Last week, a midst rumors that Chip Kelly was about to be the next coach at USC; I decided to write about the upcoming match up between the Trojans and the Fighting Irish for my column in Gaming Today.  I had already been interested in Notre Dame’s season after paying close attention to the game against Clemson, in which I thought they played exceptionally well.  Most of the college analysts I had spoken with prior to this game thought that Clemson would win handily due to various variables including the weather.  Yet, as I watched the game I kept thinking to myself, this Notre Dame team is tough and in my opinion a bit underestimated.

After Notre Dame took on Clemson, they were at home in South Bend to face Navy.  I wanted Navy to come out on top because I always root for Navy, and with Keenan Reynolds at the helm I thought they had a good chance.  The matchup was one I was not able to watch because I was heading out to see Vertical Horizon play at B.B. Kings in NYC.  While en route to the show I got a call from my brother.  “Did you see what happened? He said.  The crazy thing is that he thought for sure I’d be watching the game.  That’s what I do now on Saturdays.  I watch college football.  Had VH not been in town, I would have known that Navy’s star QB had been injured during the game, and the odds against Navy pulling off a victory were slim.  In an article later published in the Washington Post, Gene Wang talks about how Navy just could not keep up with Notre Dame.  He sited “turnovers, penalties, and defensive breakdowns” in addition to Keenan’s “sore shin.”

This week, USC will head to Notre Dame.  At the time I wrote my initial piece for Gaming Today about this match up Steve Sarkasian had not been fired although I had a sense it was coming.  Rumors that Chip Kelly was being considered for the job were all over Twitter.  Presently, the Athletic Director of USC, Pat Haden is in the hot seat because of the facts coming out about all those red flags he may have ignored which could have lead him to know hiring Steve Sarkasian was risky.

News about Sarkasian continues to develop.  The aftermath is not pretty.  In an article published by ESPN written by Travis Haney, Travis brings up the fact that Notre Dame’s coach Brian Kelly has faced four different coaches in the past four years.  Most recently, top recruit Daelin Hayes withdrew his commitment in the wake of the Sarkasian mess.

With a disappointing loss to the Washington Huskies last week, in a game that USC had been expected to win by double digits, the Trojans head to South Bend an underdog.  The line opened with a total of 61 and 2 favored the Irish, but the line has moved up to between 6.5 and 7 [www.VegasInsiders.com] and could move even more by game time.

Thus far into the season USC has three wins and two losses.  Their first two wins they scored over 50 points and kept the opposing teams to single digit numbers.  Their first loss was to Stanford with a final score of 41-31.  The following week they went up against Arizona State and won 42-14.  Last week against the Huskies they failed to score beyond 12 but only gave up 17 points.  Notre Dame has won all of its games this year with the exception of the matchup against Clemson.  They beat Texas 38-3, Virginia 34-27, Georgia Tech 30-22, Massachusetts 62-27, and Navy 41-24.  Are those teams as formidable opponents as USC?

As I look to learn more about the skills of professional handicappers, I will be paying close attention to their thoughts on this upcoming matchup. What would you consider when thinking about placing a bet on this game? I might have been inclined to take Notre Dame when the line was -2 but I am not so sure I’d jump at the chance to bet against USC with seven.

This is where the help of a professional handicapper comes in and why I have such respect for the people in Vegas who take the time to educate others about the games.  They will know what information to look for besides what’s been reported in the press.  They might suggest that you stay away, or they might tell you to go with the Over/or Under.  Others might not recommend you do anything but they will share what they are going to do.

Looking Up