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NCAAF

Sep 01, 2019

Notre Dame at Louisville

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Louisville Cardinals

Venue/Location: Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, KY
Time/TV: Monday, Sept. 2, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Line: Notre Dame -18, Total 54.5
Last Meeting: 2014, Louisville (+2.5) 31 at Notre Dame 28

With Week 1 of the NFL’s season beginning on Thursday, college football is the Monday Night Football offering from ESPN to conclude Week 1. Louisville and its new head coach Scott Satterfield will host Notre Dame at Cardinal Stadium.

As of Sunday night, most books had the Fighting Irish installed as an 18-point road favorite with a total of 54 or 54.5 points. The Cardinals were +700 or +750 on the money line at most spots.

For first half wagers, Notre Dame is a 10-point favorite at most books, but there’s a -115 price attached to it. There are a few betting shops like the Westgate SuperBook and Stations who have the Irish -10.5 in the game’s first 30 minutes. The total is 28 points, while U of L is +500 on the money line.

Notre Dame finished 2018 with a 12-1 straight-up record and a 6-6-1 against-the-spread mark. Brian Kelly’s team went undefeated in 12 regular-season games, beating four ranked foes in 14th-ranked Michigan (24-17), seventh-ranked Stanford (38-17), 24th-ranked Va. Tech (45-23) and 12th-ranked Syracuse (36-3). Notre Dame’s season ended at Jerry World in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff, as Clemson trounced the Irish 30-3 as a 12.5-point ‘chalk.’ The Tigers enjoyed a 538-248 advantage in total offense, with Trevor Lawrence throwing for 327 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. Notre Dame QB Ian Book completed only 17-of-34 passes for 160 yards and one interception.

Kelly’s bunch went 2-1-1 ATS as a road favorite in 2018. During his first nine seasons in South Bend, Notre Dame has compiled a 10-13-1 ATS as a road favorite. The Irish posted a 2-5-1 spread record in eight games as a double-digit favorite.

Notre Dame returns seven starters on offense and six on defense. Book is back for his junior campaign. He took over for Brandon Wimbush, who has since transferred to UCF, as the starting signal caller in Week 5 vs. Stanford.

Book went 8-1 in nine starts, connecting on 68.2 percent of his passes for 2,628 yards with a 19/7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He had 280 rushing yards and four TDs.

The Irish lost leading rusher Dexter Williams, who had 995 rushing yards, 12 TDs and a 6.3 yards-per-carry average in ’18. He also had 16 receptions for 133 yards and one TD. The depth chart Kelly released this week lists sophomore Jafar Armstrong or junior Tony Jones as the starting RB.

Jones ran for 392 yards and three TDs with a 4.7 YPC average last year, while Armstrong had 383 rushing yards, seven TDs and a 5.3 YPC average. Armstrong had 14 catches for 159 yards, and Jones made six receptions for 157 yards and one TD.

Notre Dame’s offense averaged 31.4 points per game in ’18, while its defense gave up only 18.2 PPG.

Notre Dame will face U of L without its starting tight end Cole Kmet (broken collarbone, out indefinitely), WR Kevin Austin (indefinite suspension) and WR Michael Young. Kmet started seven games last year, hauling in 15 receptions for 162 yards.

Austin played in 11 of 13 games as a freshman last season, making five catches for 90 yards. Young, a junior, has played in 26 career games. He had seven grabs for 138 yards and one TD in 2018.

Louisville won at least eight games in the first four seasons of Bobby Petrino’s second head-coaching stint at the school. However, the 2018 team finished the year on a nine-game losing streak and U of L decided to fire Petrino.

I’m a big fan of the new hire in former Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield, who went 47-16 from 2014-18 when the school moved from FCS up to FBS and into the Sun Belt Conference. Satterfield led the Mountaineers to a 34-6 record against Sun Belt opponents. He nearly pulled upsets in season-opening overtime losses at Tennessee (2016) and at Penn State (last year).

Satterfield led Appalachian State to four straight bowl appearances, going 3-0 in those games. (The Mountaineers beat Middle Tennessee 45-13 at last year’s New Orleans Bowl after Satterfield had left for U of L.). His teams won at least nine games in each of his last four seasons, finishing 10-3 in ’16 and 11-2 in both ’15 and ’18.

Satterfield inherits a squad that finished 2-10 SU and an atrocious 1-11 ATS last season. U of L brings back six starters on offense and 10 on defense. Whether 10 defensive starters returning is a good thing or not is debatable, because that unit allowed 44.1 PPG in ’18.

Junior Jawon Pass, a former four-star recruit, has won the starting QB job. Pass started nine games last season, completing 54.0 percent of his passes for 1,960 with an abysmal 8/12 TD-INT ratio. He had a pair of rushing scores.

U of L bring back four of its top-five pass catchers. Dez Fitzpatrick is the best of the bunch. He had 699 receiving yards in seven starts as a freshman in ’17. Fitzpatrick had 31 receptions for 422 yards and three TDs last year.

Louisville is expected to be without four players vs. the Irish. Starting TE Jordan Davis is out for the first two games of the year due to an academic issue. He has started five games and has 111 receiving yards in the past two seasons. Also, junior safety TreSean Smith is serving an indefinite suspension. Smith has 70 career tackles in his first two seasons with the Cardinals.

Junior LB P.J. Blue is out for the season with a torn ACL. Blue recorded 39 tackles and two tackles for loss in 2018.

Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.

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