The Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s quest for a second straight national playoff appearance kicks off Monday in Louisville against a Cardinals team playing its first game under new head coach Scott Satterfield. Notre Dame ran the table last year in regular-season play while the Cards look to erase the memory of a miserable 2-10 campaign.
Opening Odds Analysis
Betting action in this contest has been predictably one-sided ever since oddsmakers opened the Irish as 16.5-point road chalk. Notre Dame had been bet up to -19 points by early June, and that number had climbed as high as -21 at Bodog before coming back down to -20.5 at most shops at the time of writing.
Bettors have also been intrigued by the UNDER in this affair, betting the total down to 57 from an opener of 60.
Notre Dame News & Notes
Can the Fighting Irish quickly resume their fine form of the 2018 regular season, or will there be a hangover effect from a humbling 30-3 loss to Clemson in the national semifinal? That may be the biggest question in South Bend going into the season, although Notre Dame also needs to find a way to plug the holes left by losing 11 players to the pros.
Key departures include the Irish’s top rusher (Dexter Williams) and top receiver (Miles Boykin), along with four key starters on the defensive side of the ball. The good news for Notre Dame is that QB Ian Book, who threw 19 TDs and completed nearly 70 percent of his passes in nine games last year, is back — although his issues with downfield accuracy were exposed in the loss to Clemson.
Louisville News & Notes
Satterfield inherits a mess left behind by Bobby Petrino, but at least the new Louisville head coach brings plenty of street cred to his new gig. Satterfield joins the Cards after an impressive six-year tenure at Appalachian State, where he led the Mountaineers to a 47-16 record, three straight Sun Belt Conference titles, a trio of bowl game victories and, most notably, from the FCS to the FBS.
The new Louisville coach has started with the basics, installing brand new schemes on both sides of the ball while also focusing on improving open-field tackling, one of the Cardinals’ most glaring weaknesses in 2018. But how much can he clean up in time before Monday’s visit from the Irish? As of the time of writing, the Cardinals hadn’t even announced who their starting quarterback would be.
With Satterfield still assessing his personnel and Notre Dame counterpart Brian Kelly also looking to replace key cogs from last year, I’m expecting a conservative approach from both coaches in this one – particularly early. I’ll back the First Half UNDER 29, banking on an amped-up Louisville home crowd to give their defense a boost against an Irish attack that is more methodical than explosive.
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