Classic Betting Scenario Speaks for Ball State vs. Notre Dame

Monday, September 3, 2018 4:37 PM UTC

Monday, Sep. 3, 2018 4:37 PM UTC

Notre Dame surprised everybody by refusing to allow Michigan to endanger its lead. Can the Irish bring the same intensity against Ball State? A classic betting scenario, called the let-down spot, says no.

<p style="text-align:right"><strong><em>Betting Record on Notre Dame Games: 1-0, +1 unit</em></strong></p><h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" title="Game Odds">Ball State at Notre Dame</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (NBC)</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Free NCAAF Pick: Ball State +33.5</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Best Line Offered: <a href=";book=BetOnline" rel="nofollow" title="Top Rated Sportsbook">BetOnline</a></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3448181, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,139,274,999996,180], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]<br /><br />Notre Dame began its season in shocking fashion against Michigan while the passing attack seemed to run on adrenaline. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush sought to answer doubts surrounding his pass accuracy by completing multiple bombs, including a 43-yard touchdown pass, to put his team ahead 14-0 in the first quarter. Despite holding on for an emotional and exciting victory, Notre Dame’s performance ultimately showed the classically inconsistent Wimbush, who fizzled out by completing 2 of 7 after starting 10-for-13, helping Notre Dame to only three points and 69 yards in the second half. Notre Dame’s victory leaves two key questions: Can Wimbush bring the same adrenaline and come up with enough big plays to cover against an opponent that Notre Dame is expected to defeat easily? And, can the Irish, who were outgained by Michigan, reproduce the same effort to keep points off the board in a vastly less exciting environment? History suggests that teams coming off a huge, primetime victory fall flat when they face a lackluster, "boring" opponent in the following week. This expected drop in performance is called the "let-down angle."<br /><br />Ball State may look like a team not worth betting on under any circumstances. It did finish 2-10 last season, but it was in an impossible position to succeed. Its starting quarterback and running back got injured in the third game and some wide receivers and three more quarterbacks joined them en route to nine straight losses. Now, Ball State’s stars on offense return with added depth thanks to the playing time the backups received.<br /><br />Quarterback Riley Neal picked up where he left off, going 23-for-30 for 259 yards and two touchdowns in Ball State’s opener against Central Connecticut. Neal has positive experience against Power Five opponents, nearly (although Ball State gained 159 more yards) leading Ball State to victory at Illinois last season, throwing for over 200 yards in a 10-point loss at Indiana in 2016, and, as a freshman in 2015, throwing two touchdowns in a narrow loss at Northwestern. With Neal as starter, Ball State is 3-1 ATS against Power 5 opponents.</p><p>[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]<br /><br />The key with Neal is that he’s consistently accurate, accruing a 61.3 completion percent in his career. Notre Dame’s defense excels at limiting big passing plays, but has problems with accurate quarterbacks. This problem was evident last week, when Michigan’s quarterback Dylan McCaffrey immediately entered into the game for Shea Patterson and was able to move his team down half the field with quick and short passes. Last season, Notre Dame ranked 15th in opposing yards per pass attempt, but 48th in opposing completion percentage. An offense succeeds against the Irish through the short passing game, which is exactly what Ball State likes to do. The Cardinals execute an up-tempo, dink-and-dunk offense and, with 13 of their top 14 receivers and of course their quarterback returning, they execute this offense as well as they can. They do this relentlessly. For example, in the cover against Indiana, they were down 30-0 but chose to keep fighting.<br /><br />Whereas Ball State will keep fighting, I doubt that the Irish will — assuming that the Irish do eventually extend their lead to three or even four touchdowns — because they’ll lack the motivation. The NCAA established a new rule whereby freshmen can play in four games while still retaining their redshirt. Notre Dame plays two Power Five opponents after Ball State — Vanderbilt then Wake Forest — and will want to use the opportunity against Ball State to give its youth more experience.</p><p> </p><h2>The Verdict</h2><p>Brandon Wimbush consistently exemplifies the let-down angle. Last season, after an exciting game against top opponent Georgia, he completed 11 of 24 for 96 yards against lowly Boston College. Then, after impressively dominating Michigan State, he completed 7 of 18 for 119 yards against Miami of Ohio, which plays in the same conference as Ball State. After defeating top opponent Michigan, expect a similar let-down from Wimbush. The thing is that, last year, Wimbush could still rely on his offensive line and superstar running back Josh Adams to put up a lot of points. But Adams is gone, his backup Dexter Williams suspended, and the offensive line is weakened by departures. Wimbush is essentially Notre Dame’s offense, whereas Ball State’s Neal is complemented by James Gilbert and Caleb Huntley at running back, who looked great in their season opener but more importantly at least one of them achieved strong numbers and big plays against the same Power 5 opponents that Neal did.<br /><br />The Irish will be lackluster relative to what they can normally do, while Ball State will give its best performance when it has nothing to lose and its dink-and-dunk offense will ultimately hang around to cover the spread. In looking at the <a href="" title="Live NCAAF Odds">NCAAF odds board</a>, Ball State has great underdog value for an <a href="" title="Free NCAAF Picks">NCAAF pick</a>.</p>
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