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Notre Dame Favored By 20 Over Duke; Are Irish A Good Bet?

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 3 mins

Notre Dame Favored By 20 Over Duke; Are Irish A Good Bet?

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Notre Dame kicks off its 2020 season Saturday as a temporary member of the ACC, hoping to cash in on big expectations with Coach Brian Kelly entering his 11th season in South Bend.

The Irish have the seventh-best college football futures odds to win the National Championship, listed at +2200 with Unibet. In the ACC, the Fighting Irish are +600 to win the ACC behind favorite Clemson (-455). The conference campaign starts Saturday with the Duke Blue Devils traveling to South Bend for the season opener at Notre Dame Stadium.

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Notre Dame opened as a -20 college football betting favorite and the line has held steady throughout the week. That’s an attainable number for the Irish to cover and cruise in a Week 1 blowout over Duke.

Why Notre Dame is So Heavily Favored

It starts for the Irish with quarterback Ian Book and the offensive line. Book is entering his senior season having passed for 3,034 yards and 34 touchdowns with just six interceptions last season. We’re especially big on teams with experienced quarterbacks in 2020. Most teams have had limited practice time amid unprecedented uncertainty over schedules, logistics and player safety. Having an established leader under center come kickoff should prove more valuable than ever this season.

Just as important in terms of cohesion, the Irish should have the best offensive line in the country with all five starters returning. Four of those starters are included in Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 30 offensive linemen in the nation. Yes, the Irish lose some key skill position players. But an A-plus offensive line and an experienced senior quarterback are a great starting point.

Duke brings out a new starting quarterback in Clemson graduate transfer Chase Brice, who saw limited action backing up Trevor Lawrence. The Blue Devils are also without starting center Jack Wohlabaugh, who suffered a torn knee ligament last week.

Lessons From 2019 Matchup

The Blue Devils have solid experience on defense with seven returning starters. They were slightly above-average defensively a year ago and gave up 391.6 yards per game. That defense paved the way for a respectable 4-4 start that had some believing Duke could cover a +8 spread when it hosted Notre Dame.

Instead, Book ran for 139 yards and threw for four touchdowns as Notre Dame covered and won in a blowout, 38-7. The Blue Devils only managed 197 yards of total offense.

Duke should improve this year and Coach David Cutcliffe is trying to force the issue by taking over offensive play-calling duties. But the Blue Devils remain incredibly outmatched in the trenches against the Irish offensive line, and Book should be able to take advantage all afternoon. Look for Notre Dame to cruise and cover the odds in the opener and quickly adapt to life in the ACC.

About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.
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