This handicapper is concerned about a Notre Dame team that, after starting 6-0 this season, is just 1-3 both SU and ATS over its last four games. The Irish will try to escape their recent funk when they host new “conference rival” Louisville Saturday afternoon in South Bend.
Cardinals-Irish Betting Odds
Most college football odds opened Notre Dame at right around -5 over Louisville, with a total of 53. But as of Wednesday morning every book we checked with had dropped the Irish to -3.5.
Those out there who think the Cardinals might not need the points could get a price of +155 on the moneyline at 5Dimes.
Cardinals-Irish: The Match-Up
Louisville began this season pegged with a wins OVER/UNDER of eight. At 7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS and 5-3 in ACC play the Cardinals need to win their last two games, against Notre Dame and Kentucky to play OVER their total.
The 'Ville opened this season with wins over Miami and Murray State, then lost at Virginia 23-21. The Cardinals then won three in a row, beating nobody of note, before losing at Clemson 23-17. They then beat North Carolina State, but followed that up by blowing a 21-point lead and losing at home to Florida State 42-31, missing the cover as four-point home dogs. Two weeks ago Louisville won at Boston College 38-19, covering as a three-point road favorite. The Cardinals then had last week off.
Louisville trailed the Eagles in the second quarter 13-3, then outscored them from there 35-6. The Cardinals outgained BC 423-332 and won the turnover battle 4-1.Coach Petrino is known for his offensive-mindedness, but it's actually been Louisville's defense that's gotten them this far, ranking fifth in the nation overall and 10th in points allowed, at less than 18 per game.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, began this season with a wins total of 7.5. At 7-3 SU, 5-5 ATS the Irish need one win in their last two games, against Louisville and USC, to top their total.The Irish started this season 6-0, with wins over Michigan and Stanford, although those don't look that impressive now, after what the Wolverines and Cardinal have done since. Notre Dame then took a very tough loss at Florida State 31-27, a game in which we can safely say the Irish got screwed. Notre Dame then beat Navy 49-39 but couldn't cover as a two-touchdown favorite, then went out to Arizona State and committed five turnovers, two of which were returned for Sun Devils touchdowns, in a 55-31 defeat. And last week the Irish continued with their recent inconsistent ways, making several crucial mistakes, eventually losing at home to Northwestern 43-40 in overtime as 17-point home favorites.
Notre Dame got outgained by the Wildcats 547-498, outrushed 263-211, committed four turnovers, had an extra-point attempt blocked and returned for two Northwestern points, failed on a misguided two-point conversion attempt, fumbled the ball away with less than two minutes to go, leading to the game-tying field goal and missed two field goals of their own. What a mess! Notre Dame has committed 23 turnovers over its last seven games, and has been outrushed in each of its last three games. These two teams have played two common opponents this season; both won and covered against Syracuse, and both lost tough games to Florida State.
Cardinals-Irish: What History?
These two programs, separated by about 250 miles, have never met before. Now, they're “conference rivals.” Yeah, that makes sense.
Cardinals-Irish Betting Trends
Louisville is 3-6-1 on the totals this season, as Cardinals games have averaged 49 points.
Notre Dame is 5-5 on the totals, even as Irish games have averaged 63 points. Notre Dame is 44-18 SU under Coach Kelly but only 29-30-3 ATS, probably because they're “Notre Dame,” and often inflated on the betting lines.
Louisville is without starting QB Will Gardner (12/3 TD/INT ratio), who is lost for the season to a knee injury. But highly regarded freshman back-up Reggie Bonnafon isn't exactly a virgin, having already started thrice earlier this season, guiding the Cardinals to victories over Wake Forest and Syracuse. He also threw two TD passes and ran for 76 yards and a touchdown in relief against BC.
On the other side of the quarterback match-up, Notre Dame's Everett Golson suffered a sprained throwing shoulder last week, and while it looks like he'll play Saturday, one has to wonder if he'll be affected.
Cardinals-Irish Free Pick
This might be a fun one to watch, because it looks like Bonnafon can play a little.
Notre Dame owns the edge on offense, but it's become so mistake-prone it's almost funny. And Louisville owns the edge on defense. In tough calls like this we usually go with the better defense. So take the Cardinals as your college football pick, plus the points.
Free College Football Pick: Louisville +3 at BetOnline