Last Updated on September 11, 2020

College Football season is almost here and there is no shortage of big games early on in the year. No. 10 Notre Dame will host Duke on Saturday and the Fighting Irish are heavy favorites.

Despite coronavirus ending the Big 10 and Pac-12 seasons before they even started, the ACC is pushing ahead with games. Notre Dame will keep its independent status, but due to the craziness of 2020, they are joining the ACC for one season. It’s worth noting that Notre Dame went 5-0 against ACC opponents last season, including a win over Virginia, who was ranked 18th at the time.

 

Notre Dame – Duke Week 1 Betting Odds

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The Fighting Irish are heavily favored over the Blue Devils. Notre Dame is hovering around a 19-20 point favorite at most books and sitting around a -950 moneyline. This game has all the makings of a blowout.

The total points opened at 53.5 and will likely stay in that same range. Notre Dame is usually a team that is propelled forward by its defense and 2020 shouldn’t be much different. They have the potential to put up points behind senior quarterback Ian Book, but it’s unclear how sharp they’ll be entering the season.

 

 

Notre Dame – Duke Preview & Betting Angles

Book is looking to build off of his breakout 2019 season. As a junior, Book threw for over 3,000 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also kept his turnover numbers low with only six interceptions. Notre Dame lost a handful of playmakers to the NFL this offseason so someone will have to step up and provide some production, but having the experienced Book under center will help take off some of the pressure.

Book and company will be going against a Duke defense that is bringing back most of its starters. The Blue Devils weren’t terrible on defense in 2019, but the offense struggled to string together long drives and that would wear down the defense over the course of games.

When Duke and Notre Dame met in 2019, Book did damage in the air and on the ground. He threw for four touchdowns despite rushing for 139 yards. If Duke can’t fix the run defense, we could see a repeat in 2020.

Offensively, Duke can’t be much worse than they were last season. Head coach David Cutcliffe is revered as a great offensive mind, but the Blue Devils were weak offensively last season. Cutcliffe is likely going to rely on grad transfer Chase Brice to help turn around the offense. He’s coming to Duke from Clemson after backing up Trevor Lawrence for two seasons.

If Brice is the real deal, Duke might be able to hang around with Notre Dame — at least enough to cover the spread. Covering 19.5 points won’t be easy if Duke is finishing off long drives with points. However, that’s a huge “if.”

All signs point to Notre Dame rolling Duke for a second consecutive season. The only question is whether or not they’ll score enough to cover the total points.

 

Notre Dame – Duke Historical Matchup

Notre Dame is 4-2 against Duke all-time. The Fighting Irish won the last game, but Duke took down Notre Dame in 2016 on the back of current-New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns in a see-saw game.

With that said, 2016 was a long time ago and this is a much different Duke roster. They don’t have the offensive punch of a few years ago and they don’t have the certainty of a future NFL quarterback under center.

 

Where to Watch Notre Dame – Duke

Like most Notre Dame games, this one can be found on NBC. Notre Dame is in the midst of a 10-year contract with NBC to air their games exclusively. The deal runs through the 2025 season. NBC has held the rights to air Notre Dame games since 1991.

Notre Dame-Duke kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 12.

 

Returning Team Production

 

Duke

Overall: 65% (65 of 130 FBS)
Offense: 56%
Defense: 73%
Coaching Staff: New OL & CB coaches
Offense: 7 starters returning, new QB (transfer Chase Brice)
Defense: 7 starters returning
Offensive line games started: 49

 

Notre Dame

Overall: 59% (83 of 130 FBS)
Offense: 66%
Defense: 51%
Coaching Staff: New TE, CB coaches. Internal Promotion at OC (Tommy Rees)
Offense: 7 starters returning, including QB (Ian Book, 13 starts)
Defense: 5 starters returning
Offensive line games started: 59

 

Betting Picks & Score Prediction

Personally, I find it hard to bet on games with a heavy, heavy favorite. There’s little value to be had on the moneyline and watching a favorite try and cover by three scores can be stressful.

With all that said, the play here is Notre Dame laying the points. There’s too much uncertainty surrounding Duke’s offense to think they’ll crack Notre Dame’s defense. Additionally, the total points are too high for an over bet. The under isn’t a bad play, but if Notre Dame’s offense explodes that under bet could be in jeopardy.

Final score prediction: Notre Dame wins 35-13

Small’s 2020 CFB record: 0-1 (-1u)