Toledo Rockets vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick 9/11/21
When: Saturday, September 11, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Point Spread: TOL +16.5/ND -16.5 (MyBookie - Sign up with special promo code PREDICT100 and they’ll give you a 100% bonus on your first deposit up to $300! A sweet bonus from a TOP Sportsbook!)
Total: O/U 55
The Irish seemed to have an easy win locked up against Florida State, but things completely fell apart in the second half, forcing them to straight-up survive against the Seminoles before emerging with a win. Toledo had no such issues against Norfolk State, as the Rockets used quality special teams to run away with a win against the Spartans. But Toledo looked far from settled at quarterback, and the Rockets might not have the ability to stick with Notre Dame over four full quarters based on how the Irish looked in the opener.
Toledo has been a strong side in the MAC, but the Irish have never lost to a MAC opponent and have dominated at South Bend, winning its past nine contests at home. With Notre Dame coming off a narrow escape, this might be one of the worst possible times to play the Irish.
How the Public is Betting the Toledo/Notre Dame Game
The public appears to be a bit spooked by the Irish failing to slam the door on Florida State. Normally a public team, the Irish is only getting 54% of the spread betting action. Additionally, the the line has moved down two points in Toledo’s direction, dropping it from -18.5 to -16.5 signalling some early sharp action on the dog. The total has also moved, jumping from 52.5 to 55.
Toledo reports no injuries.
Running back C’Bo Flemister (undisclosed), tight end Kevin Bauman (undisclosed), and running back Logan Diggs (undisclosed) are questionable. Linebacker Marist Liufau (ankle) is out for the season.
When Toledo Has the Ball
Carter Bradley isn’t going to try to do too much, which is why he’s put up some rather pedestrian numbers to this point in his career: he’s there to manage the game and keep Toledo from letting things get out of hand early. What gets the job done for Toledo is a reliable ground game that has piled up at least 100 yards in five of their past six contests, led by Dequan Finn gaining 82 yards on nine carries.
Toledo doesn’t stick with any single running back or offensive weapon, as the Rockets spread things out to eight different targets even as the game got more out of hand. No Toledo player caught more than three balls against Norfolk State, which could work either way as far as the offense goes. But if Bradley doesn’t start to do more under center, the Rockets don’t have much of a hope as far as keeping things close against a team as powerful as Notre Dame. Throwing just 12 passes isn’t going to get the job done against an offense like this.
When Notre Dame Has the Ball
The Irish have to learn to keep their foot on the gas, but otherwise, this is a scary offense to try to stop. Jack Coan showed exactly why he was such a strong starter at Wisconsin in torching Florida State for four touchdown passes and 366 yards, and he’s only likely to keep that progress coming as the season continues.
The big problem for the Irish is that they don’t really have anything that resembles a ground game yet, as the running game didn’t go anywhere against Florida State. Notre Dame managed just 1.9 yards per carry against the Seminoles, and given that the Seminoles gave up more than five yards per handoff, there’s got to be some genuine concern about whether the Irish really have much resemblance of a running game. The good news is that Coan is on point, and Michael Mayer and Kevin Austin have proven difficult for anyone to stop, but if Notre Dame can’t balance them out with a good ground game, better teams are going to punish them.
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Notre Dame gets a lot of stink for being an overhyped team each year, but the Irish have gotten the job done in their home opener under Brian Kelly. Last year marked the end of a six-year streak that saw the Irish cover their home opener, and that was simply because the line got set too high against a decent Duke squad. The Irish have covered the point spread in seven of their last eight against a team above .500, and they’re 3-1-1 ATS in their past five against the MAC.
Toledo, meanwhile, has struggled badly when it’s gone on the road. The Rockets have lost six in a row as a road underdog, and they’re just 2-7 ATS overall in their past nine road games. Toledo has, however, been a strong over bet; the over is 9-2 in the Rockets’ past 11 as a road dog.
Temperatures will push into the low 80s, with the wind playing a potential role, as it will blow at 15 miles per hour to the south-southwest on a partly cloudy day.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
The Irish have the best offense on the field by a wide margin, and I don’t see Toledo keeping the ball away from Notre Dame in this one. The Rockets might try to play ball control in hopes of keeping Coan from airing it out on them, but I don’t think they’ve got the ability to control the clock, nor do I think they catch Notre Dame sleeping.
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