Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Navy Midshipmen (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday, September 1st, 2012 9:00 a.m. EST
Where: Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ND -17/Navy +17
Over/Under Total: TBD
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How do you get the folks over in Dublin, Ireland, interested in the game of college football (American football) when the sports landscape in the country is almost entirely focused on golf and soccer?
You showcase the longest standing rivalry in college football, which is exactly what the executives at CBS and the NCAA decided to do when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the Navy Midshipmen in the season opener Saturday at 9 a.m. in Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The Notre Dame-Navy series has been played annually since 1927, making it the longest uninterrupted intersectional series in all of college football. After dominating the series for 47 straight years, Navy finally broke into the win column with an upset victory over the Golden Domers in 2007. Navy also pulled off surprise wins in 2009 and 2010, before Notre Dame ended the string of Midshipmen wins with a lopsided 56-14 victory over them last season in South Bend.
There is a lot of optimism in South Bend for the 2012 season, their third year under head coach Brian Kelly. Notre Dame returns a host of starters from last years 8-5 team, including All-Americans TE Tyler Eifert and MLB Manti Teo.
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The biggest question Notre Dame will have to answer early in the season is who will be the starting quarterback. Last years starter, Tommy Rees is suspended for the opener against Navy due to a run-in with police in the offseason. But even without the suspension, Rees was in a four-way battle to earn the role with Everett Golson, Andrew Hendrix and true freshman Gunner Kiel. Kelly has yet to name the winner of the QB battle, but insiders are speculating it will be Golson in the opener.
Whomever finally wins the job should have plenty of help, since their top RB Cierre Wood also returns along with C Braxton Cave and LT Zack Martin (48 career starts between them) to help lead the offensive attack.
Defensively the Irish should be solid as well, as Teo returns to lead the unit that also has a stud-to-be in sophomore Stephon Tuitt.
The Irish defense will try and stop a Navy option offense that finished 4th in the country in rushing yards per game. Navy QB Trey Miller is back to run the option scheme for the Midshipmen, and so is slot-back Gee Gee Greene.
It was the Navy defense that had all sorts of problems stopping offenses last year during their 5-7 campaign, and with a host of new names and faces in the huddle this year the biggest question the Midshipmen have to answer is whether or not they have found the right combination of players to make the defense formidable this year.
Oddsmakers are expecting the Irish to have very little trouble, setting the opening betting line for the game across the big pond with Notre Dame as 16-point favorites. The early betting public seems to agree, hitting the Irish hard enough to move the number up to minus -17 at most sportsbooks on the Web.
There are a few betting trends that apply to this game, including the fact that the road team is a solid 14-3 ATS in the last 17 games. The under might be the best trend play however, with it going 5-1 ATS in the last six neutral site games in the series.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Even though the Irish have yet to pick a QB, they still have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball to roll in this game. Once they release a total I would like the under as a trend play (especially with the Navy run-heavy offense running clock), but I also think the Irish will cover by the end of the game. Take Notre Dame minus the points.
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