(3) St. Thomas Aquinas (3-1) vs. Las Vegas Bishop Gorman (5-0)
Friday at Bishop Gorman Fertitta Field, 10 p.m. (ESPN)

As soon as this game was confirmed, the talk began of how this would be a “clash of the titans”.

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Fast forward to the actual week of the game and I’d venture to say that it has lost just a hint of its luster. St. Thomas Aquinas’ week one loss to Booker T. Washington and subsequent fall in the national polls are the culprits, no doubt about it.

But I think people are being a bit too quick to dismiss and discount the Raiders.

How quickly some are forgetting that St. Thomas Aquinas still has one of the most talent-laden rosters in the country and still have exceptional high school football players at just about every position on the field – on top of having one of the better coaching staffs, too.

So as Aquinas rolls into Las Vegas, they will be taking on an undefeated Bishop Gorman team that has climbed to the top of almost all the national polls and is playing a very good brand of football at this point in the season.

The Gaels’ offense runs through dual-threat quarterback Tate Martell – an Ohio State commit. Martell has thrown 13 touchdowns this season – against zero interceptions – and is second on the team in rushing yards (406) while leading in rushing touchdowns (6).

Amod Cianelli is now Gorman’s top rusher since an injury took down Biaggio Walsh – the grandson of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Still, Bishop Gorman’s offense is quite potent – scoring at least 35 points in all five victories this season.

What St. Thomas Aquinas must do to be successful in this game is, you guessed it, run the ball.

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I think It would greatly benefit the Raiders to give Bishop Gorman a heavy dose of Mike Epstein and Kyshaun Bryan. Getting the run game going would allow for some play-action passes downfield to Trevon Grimes or up the seams with Mike Harley and Jorden Merrell.

Defensively, I think St. Thomas should make Martell beat them as a passer. Use his smaller, 5-foot-10 frame against him and make him throw from the pocket while trying to bat down as many passes as possible. Perhaps the Raiders use linebacker Drew White as a spy and let the defensive back rely on their skills.

I believe Aquinas has the personnel to knock off Bishop Gorman, they just have to go in with the right mindset – dare I say, they have to go in there and play with some South Florida swag.

I think Aquinas gets it done.

Bald Prediction = St. Thomas wins 33-31

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