Bookmakers’ eyes were smiling after the Fighting Irish rallied late for a 17-14 comeback win over Stanford on college football’s Separation Saturday.
Everett Golson didn’t have his best game for No. 9 Notre Dame against the No. 14 Cardinal on a cold, rainy day in South Bend, Ind., but the quarterback delivered in the clutch, finding Ben Koyack alone in the end zone on fourth-and-11 from the 23 with 61 seconds left to lift the underdog Irish (5-0) to victory.
“If you get that play 100 times, the team with a fourth-and-11 will maybe make it 20 times,” Wynn sports book director John Avello said.
Not that Avello was complaining. The first place in town to post college lines — at 3 p.m. each Sunday — the Wynn opened Notre Dame as a 1-point favorite, but the public pounded Stanford, which closed as a 2½-point favorite.
“That was a good game for us,” Avello said. “If you ask me who the better team is on a neutral field, I’ll probably say Stanford, but the game was at Notre Dame and the public felt Notre Dame was vulnerable. Their schedule so far was real weak.”
The Irish, which held Stanford (3-2) to its fewest rushing yards (47) in seven years, botched two field goal tries before Kyle Brindza booted a 45-yarder to put Notre Dame ahead 10-7 with 7:32 left.
The Cardinal took the lead on Remound Wright’s 11-yard run up the middle, on third-and-goal, with 3:01 to play. Golson — who completed only 20 of 43 passes, threw an interception and lost a fumble — guided the Irish 65 yards on nine plays in two minutes for the winning score.
As Golson improved to 15-1 as a starter, a big Mississippi State-ment was punctuated down South, where the No. 12 Bulldogs trounced No. 6 Texas A&M 48-31 at Starkville and No. 11 Ole Miss upset No. 3 Alabama 23-17 at Oxford.
No. 25 Texas Christian also knocked off No. 4 Oklahoma 37-33, capping a week in which four of the top six teams in the top 25 lost — marking only the second time that’s happened in the Associated Press poll era (since 1936). In all, there were seven upsets of top-25 teams.
“I kind of saw them coming,” Avello said of the upsets. “You always have a week like that where you get those real tough matchups like Oklahoma-TCU and Alabama-Mississippi.
“You had to expect something. I didn’t think both Mississippi teams would get (wins) but they’ve been playing really good football the first part of the season and were just primed for good games today.”
Avello said the Wynn split on the showdowns in the Magnolia State, winning on Mississippi — which opened as a 4-point underdog and closed as a 6-point ’dog — and losing on Mississippi State, which opened as a 1½-point ’dog and closed as a 3-point favorite.
“That’s a pretty significant move there,” Avello said. “They move a lot here because when we put those early numbers up, they’re virgin numbers, so they move pretty good.”
The Rebels, 5-0 for the first time since 1962, trailed 17-10 midway through the fourth quarter before Bo Wallace threw for two scores in 2:35. After Ole Miss tied it 17-all on Wallace’s 34-yard pass to Vince Sanders with 5:29 left, the Crimson Tide fumbled away the ensuing kickoff. A few plays later, Wallace hooked up with Jaylen Walton on a 10-yard pass to take the lead. Senquez Golson intercepted a pass by Alabama quarterback Blake Sims in the end zone with 37 seconds left as the Rebels snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Tide (4-1).
“I thought Mississippi would be able to hang around but I never thought they’d beat them,” Avello said. “To beat that Alabama team that had started to look like it was putting it together, I was kind of surprised they got the win.”
The Bulldogs (5-0) jumped out to a 28-7 lead in the first half over the Aggies (5-1) and were never threatened. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott accounted for five touchdowns as he outplayed Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill (4 TDs, 3 INTs).
“Texas A&M was not good today,” Avello said.
The action was pretty balanced at the Wynn, which also lost on No. 1 Florida State, a 38½-point favorite that won by 40 — 43-3 over Wake Forest — covering the spread on Roberto Aguayo’s 32-yard field goal with 4:53 to play.
Aside from a home date with Notre Dame on Oct. 18, the Seminoles (5-0) should have a clear path to the four-team playoff.
“Florida State plays nobody,” Avello said. “They’re supposed to run the table.”
In the wake of Alabama’s narrow road loss, Avello expects the Crimson Tide to drop only to fourth or fifth in the rankings, with No. 5 Auburn (which beat No. 15 Louisiana State 41-7) moving to No. 2 and No. 7 Baylor (which beat Texas 28-7) jumping to No. 3.
“The team I think is the most dangerous right now is Baylor,” he said. “They’re playing really good football, mostly on the offensive side. I think Baylor is dangerous. They get TCU next week, but it’s at home and the rest of their home games are all winnable. The one big game for them is at Oklahoma (Nov. 8).”
Top-25 favorites went 6-8-1 ATS, not including the late game between No. 8 UCLA and Utah.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.