Louisville vs. Notre Dame Betting Prediction 10/17/20
Louisville Cardinals (1-3 SU, 1-2-1 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 17th, 2:30 PM
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
Point Spread: LOU +17.5 / ND -17.5 (Bovada - Deposit $500 and get a $250 FREE bet! They also give you rebates on all your action! Win, lose or draw!)
Over/Under Total: 64
The Louisville Cardinals head four hours north to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for a Saturday afternoon battle on NBC. The teams have only met twice before, with the road team winning in both Louisville 31-28 back in 2014 and Notre Dame 35-17 in the first week of last season.
After going 2-10 in 2018, the Cardinals looked to former Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield to inject new life into a program that had seen their culture poisoned by Bobby Petrino. The team immediately bought into Satterfield’s culture and turned things around with an 8-5 record in 2019, earning him ACC Coach of the Year honors. Unfortunately, they have not been able to carry that momentum forward and have struggled to a 1-3 start to begin 2020 and now find themselves in the basement of the ACC.
One of the significant reasons for optimism going into this season was the three-pronged attack of Louisville offense, consisting of quarterback Micale Cunningham, running back Javian Hawkins, and wide receiver Tutu Atwell. Both Hawkins and Atwell have continued to live up to their expectations, but the struggles of Cunningham and lack of other consistent receiving options outside of Atwell have put definite limitations on what the Louisville offense has been able to achieve thus far.
Micale Cunningham led the ACC in pass efficiency a season ago, throwing for 22 touchdowns compared to only five interceptions. Unfortunately, he has already reached that same interception number with five picks through just four games this season. Tutu Atwell is his clear top target, with Atwell scoring 16 touchdowns over his past 16 games and currently leading the team in every receiving category (25 catches, 281 yards, and four scores). After Atwell, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Marshon Ford are the next best options, but whether it be Cunningham or the offensive play calling, the team has had a very difficult time getting steady production through the air. They can ill afford to have those issues continue this week against a stout Notre Dame defense that ranks nationally 15th in yards allowed and 8th in scoring. If the options through the air continue to evade Cunningham, he can always attempt to make plays on the ground, which has usually led to Louisville’s success in the past. Since the beginning of the 2019 season, the Cardinals are 7-1 when Cunningham runs for over 27 yards but just 2-6 when rushing for 27 or less.
The running back of the Louisville offensive triumvirate is sophomore Javian Hawkins, who on the season has 468 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He is second in the NCAA in yards and, similar to Atwell, is on a scoring streak of his own, with 11 touchdowns scored in his last thirteen games. Hawkins is also averaging 150 yards rushing per game over his previous six contests. He will be the closest test the Irish will face in running back talent before taking on Travis Etienne and Clemson in November.
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RUST COSTS COVER
After a 21-day absence from gameplay thanks to a team-wide COVID outbreak, Notre Dame returned with a 42-26 victory over Florida State. They easily could have won (and thus covered) by a lot more, but a variety of easily avoidable mistakes led directly to Seminole points and eventually cost Irish bettors in the end.
RUNNING TO SUCCESS
The biggest reason for the Notre Dame victory over Florida State was the success of their ground game, as they were able to rush for a total of 353 yards on an average of 8.4 per carry. Leading the way was sophomore Kyren Williams, who appears to be a star in the making for the Irish and on the season has rushed for 359 yards and four touchdowns. He may be the focal point of the backfield, but he is far from alone as both Chris Tyree and C’Bo Flemister are viable threats and have combined to rush for over 300 yards with an average of 8.2 yards per carry while scoring three touchdowns so far this season.
Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book continued to lead the offense efficiently against the Seminoles and on the season has thrown for 608 yards while throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for four scores. With the success of the Irish ground game, they rank 5th nationally in rushing yards per game, Book and the passing attack have not had to do much of the heavy lifting, but they will not be able to rely on a one-dimensional offense for much longer with two teams ranked in the top five awaiting them in November, Clemson and North Carolina.
Through three games, it’s clear who Ian Book’s major targets are, as only five players have recorded more than five receptions this season. Tied for the lead in yards is wide receiver Javon McKinley and running back Kyren Williams, while tight end Tommy Tremble tops out the team in receptions. After that receiver, Braden Lenzy, and perfect October named tight end Michael Mayer are the only other players with six or more receptions, and the team will hope to get more players involved as they continue through the softer spot in their schedule.
If you put stock into history and trends, then you will definitely be avoiding Louisville this weekend. Against the spread, the Cardinals are 0-7-1 in their last eight as a double-digit underdog, 1-9-1 in their past 11 against ranked teams, and 1-8-1 in their last ten as a road dog. That said, I will be going against the trends and backing Louisville on Saturday. Notre Dame obviously needs a victory, but laying the lumber isn’t as important in years past since no matter how much they end up winning, by really doesn’t matter as if they run the table and beat the likes of Clemson and North Carolina, they will undoubtedly be BCS Playoff bound. Florida State’s third-string quarterback Jordan Travis was able to have success against the Notre Dame defense. Louisville’s Micale Cunningham should be able to use his scrambling ability to do the same and open things up for a Cardinals’ offense that has plenty of skill-position talent in Javian Hawkins, Tutu Atwell, and Dez Fitzpatrick. I fully expect the Irish to get the victory, but Louisville is a much better team than they have shown on the field thus far and has the necessary ingredients to keep the game close enough to at least cover the 17.5-point head start.
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