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Canada midfield immense in historic World Cup qualifying win vs. Mexico

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What a night for Canadian soccer.

On a night of milestones, from defeating Mexico 2-1 — its first win over El Tri in Concacaf World Cup Qualifying since 1976 — to players matching or breaking records, Tuesday will be fondly remembered as a landmark evening.

That includes the “Iceteca” proving to be a fortress in this November window for the Canadian men’s national team.

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Here are three takeaways from a historic night for Canada.

Midfield pivot shines

The hero might be Cyle Larin for his goals. It could potentially be goalkeeper Milan Borjan for a jaw-dropping goal-line save at the death.

Whoever receives the plaudits, take nothing away from Atiba Hutchinson and Stephen Eustaquio.

It was a bold strategy from coach John Herdman to go with two players in midfield, especially considering this was only their third match starting together. Luckily, Mexico also opted for a duo in midfield with Orbelin Pineda occasionally dropping into the centre for support off the ball. That meant the majority of the tactical issues of a double pivot could’ve presented were nullified.

“We got wind that Mexico were going to change their structure with a three centre-back structure,” Herdman explained. “We had never seen them do that since [playing] Iceland a couple of years ago, so we had to adapt pretty quickly, change some roles and responsibilities. But right at the call was always Eustaquio and Atiba, whether we were playing with that 3-4-3 defensively or the 4-4-2 defensively. Those two players are really the heartbeat.”

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Hutchinson, who set the national team’s all-time appearances record with his 90th cap, was brilliant. The captain completed 26 of 34 passes. He had two interceptions, nine recoveries and finished the game in the process.

Take a moment to remember he is 38 years old, and the surface was essentially an ice sheet.

Hutchinson’s partner was equally important, though. Eustaquio was orchestrating the game as he often does, getting stuck in defensively and providing the assist for Larin’s winning goal. In total, he had 33 completed passes on 42 attempts, five tackles and five recoveries. His distribution wasn’t as crisp, which can be chalked down to the pitch’s conditions.

Highlighting Eustaquio’s performances is becoming repetitive because this is the norm for him in a Canadian shirt. This was only his 18th cap for the team, but at 24 years old, it’s easy to picture him accumulating dozens more appearances.

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It’s Miller Time

Lost in the hoopla was another steady display from centre-back Kamal Miller.

The CF Montreal defender was mopping up every Mexico attack that came his way on Tuesday. Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano couldn’t wriggle free from the 24-year-old’s grasp all night. Miller racked up nine recoveries and two interceptions as a result of his brilliant reading of the game. However, he remained disciplined with his passing to release full-back Sam Adekugbe into space down the left flank, as well as break lines with his progressive carries into the final third.

Considering the plethora of attacking talent up front, it’s worth remembering how much the Canadian defence has been bolstered over the last few months. Miller is one of three sturdy left-sided centre-backs along with Derek Cornelius and Scott Kennedy, who missed this window due to injury.

In fact, the defence deserves its fair share of the credit for Canada’s rise in 2021. Mexico’s marker was just the 11th goal the team has conceded in 19 games during the calendar year. It goes beyond the back four, as this Canadian side now defends as a team off the ball.

For example, this was Canada’s average positioning (via SofaScore) before and after its substitutions. Note the compact shape to ensure there’s little space for Mexico to maneuver through.

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This was always the question mark surrounding Herdman’s side. If it can stay tight defensively, then the attacking talent can see the team through. That is precisely what’s happening this year.

Laryea fulfils new role

An interesting wrinkle to Canada’s tactics saw Richie Laryea operating as an inverted full-back (or wingback, in this case).

When Canada was on the ball, Laryea drifted inside to form a midfield trio at times. This provided cover in the right half-space to defend against counters as well as Mexico’s forwards who were cutting inside. It also freed up Tajon Buchanan to provide the width on the right flank.

That is a tweak that could be seen in future matches, especially in games where Canada wants to keep its best attacking players on the pitch without sacrificing the midfield structure.



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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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