College Football Handicapping: Notre Dame’s Schedule is Littered with Opponents off of a Bye Week
Because they remain conference-less, every year Notre Dame’s schedule receives an incredible amount of dissection. The most pressing question everyone wants to know whether or not the slate sets up for the Irish to be in the College Football Playoff discussion. Last year, Notre Dame reached the playoffs — and got destroyed — but their path, in hindsight, was a perfect storm. During the regular season, Notre Dame faced only three ranked teams due in large part because Stanford, Virginia Tech, Florida State and USC all vastly underachieved. The Irish opened the season with a win over Michigan who was later discovered to be a total fraud. Northwestern was somehow ranked at the time but the Wildcats managed to outscore their opponents by only 1 ppg on the season. And Syracuse lost starting quarterback Eric Dungey in the first half of what ended up being a 38-3 Notre Dame victory. Overall, Norte Dame’s preseason schedule looked tough but pretty much everything broke their way in terms of close wins (5 wins by 8 points or less) and teams not living up to their preseason expectations.
Duplicating that feat in 2019, however, could be tricky and the main reason isn’t necessarily opponents but rather scheduling spots. Seven of Notre Dame’s 12 opponents will enjoy a bye week prior to facing the Irish. Not all seven foes are going to be able to maximize the extra time to prepare. New Mexico and Bowling Green obviously have little to no chance of victory but for bettors, perhaps it’s enough to slip within a three touchdown-plus point spread. And Notre Dame’s two toughest opponents on paper, Georgia and Michigan, play the prior week — most notably the Wolverines who will be in a tough spot having played at Penn State. But for teams like USC, Virginia Tech, Duke, Navy, and Boston College — all of which project to be underdogs but in theory have the personnel, coaching, and/or scheme to be competitive — the extra time to prepare could be enough to spur an upset.
In terms of futures, Notre Dame’s preseason expectations are moderate. According to 5Dimes, the Irish are lined at 9.5un-150 regular season wins and +400 to reach the “final four.” Bettors should focus on the back-half of Notre Dame’s schedule which should offer a few “bet against” situations with rested and ready foes.
Date – Opponent (Opponent’s Previous Week)
9/2 – at Louisville
9/7 – Bye Week
9/14 – vs. New Mexico (Bye Week)
9/21 – at Georgia (vs. Arkansas State)
9/28 – vs. Virginia (vs. Old Dominion)
10/5 – vs. Bowling Green (Bye Week)
10/12 – vs. USC (Bye Week)
10/19 – Bye Week
10/26 – at Michigan (at Penn State)
11/2 – vs. Virginia Tech (Bye Week)
11/9 – at Duke (Bye Week)
11/16 – vs. Navy (Bye Week)
11/23 – vs. Boston College (Bye Week)
11/30 – at Stanford (vs. California)