Notre Dame visits No. 21 Temple this weekend in Philadelphia for a game that figures to be much more competitive than many likely would have anticipated when it was originally added to the schedule.

The Owls are 7-0, racking up wins against in-state rival Penn State as well as Power 5 outsiders Cincinnati, Tulane, ECU and Central Florida. The Owls are ranked for a reason, because even top-ranked teams slip up in gimme games, and winning seven in a row is no small feat. Temple is scoring 32.3 points per game and averaging 345.9 yards per contest. Their defense, however, is allowing 307.7 yards -- a weakness the Irish offense will need to exploit.

Notre Dame's College Football Playoff fortunes appear to be on the rise once again following their win against a resurgent USC team. Look for Notre Dame to come out with guns blazing.

DeShone Kizer is playing like a seasoned veteran as just a red-shirt freshman and is having one of the top rated seasons for a quarterback in Notre Dame history. He has thrown for 1,370 yards on 100-of-153 passing (65.4 percent) with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. If he can continue to manage the game and minimize turnovers, the Irish should continue to light up the scoreboard. C.J. Prosise has 922 yards and 11 touchdowns and will likely eclipse the 1,000 yard mark this week. Will Fuller has 32 receptions for 702 yards and eight touchdowns, establishing himself as Kizer’s go-to receiver and one of the best pass catchers in the country. Yes, my friends, the Irish are back to having multiple weapons.

Brian Kelly’s squad only has a few more chances to make a statement to the CFP committee against ranked teams, with No. 23 Pitt following Temple (although, it's doubtful the Panthers will remain ranked after losing at home to North Carolina). If the Irish can avoid a slip-up and win their next four games, they will likely go to No. 8 Stanford with a chance to make a serious statement. The Irish should handle Temple and deal them their first loss, as long as they avoid the temptation to play down to their competition.

Prediction: Notre Dame 42, Temple 24.


Tom Desplinter is a UND graduate, Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve JAG Corp and associate of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He is a life-long Fighting Irish fan and has suffered with the Chicago Cubs since birth.