2013-14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Predictions and College Football Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/23/2013
It was a dream season. Brian Kelly had finally gotten Notre Dame back on track. They were undefeated against a strong schedule. They were looking forward to a truly epic National Championship matchup with Alabama. What could go wrong?
Pretty much everything, as it turns out. A certain girlfriend wasn’t quite as real as she seemed. The team was absolutely humiliated in the BCS Championship Game. QB Everett Golson, a potential Heisman candidate, left the school after off-field and academic issues became too much. Several prominent players followed him out the door as well. It has not been ideal — to say the least — and this team needs to leave that all behind and focus on the field if they want to shine this year.
The offense is an obvious concern this year. With Golson gone, Tommy Rees again tops the depth chart. That’s far from a comforting thought — Rees wasn’t terrible, but he is far from inspiring. The team only scored more than 22 points four times in 12 wins, so they were not a great offensive club in the first place. They were also just the 112th most efficient red zone offense. Besides Golson, they also lose tight end Tyler Eifert and running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, so there is going to be a lot of adjustment when the team has the ball.
The best news for the team is that the defense should be solid from the defensive line on back. There are some key losses — Manti Te’o being the most obvious — but there is some strong talent, and freshman safety Max Redfield has the chance to be a real star.
Notre Dame Schedule Analysis
This season marks the end of an era for the Irish. After this year they begin a loose relationship with the ACC. They aren’t a member of the conference, but they will be playing a schedule that makes it seem like they are. That means that some traditional rivalries are dying — most notably against Michigan. We can worry about what that means later. Now we can focus on what they face this year.
As usual, there are plenty of tests on the schedule. Not all the games are tough, though. They open against Temple, play at Purdue, Air Force and Pitt, and host BYU and Navy. Home games against Temple and Michigan State won’t be as tough as they could have been in recent years, either. That still leaves five tough games, though. They travel to Michigan to play under the lights in Week 2, host Oklahoma, Arizona State, and USC in three straight games over four weeks starting late in September, and close out at Stanford. I see more than one loss in that group. Of course, I saw more than one loss on their schedule last year, and we know how that turned out.
2013-14 Notre Dame Betting Odds and Trends
Oddsmakers do not have faith that Notre Dame can repeat their run to the Championship Game of last year. They sit at +4000 to win the National Championship — well behind the elite and even second-tier contenders. Though many seem to expect them to struggle later on, the losing isn’t expected to start early — they are favored by 24 to beat Temple in their opener. (All odds are from BetOnline) Despite not losing all year, the team was only barely profitable to bet on — they were 7-5 ATS. Where they excelled was going “under” the total — they did so 10 times in 12 games.
2013-14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Predictions and College Football Picks
The schedule is more favorable than last year, and the defense could be at least as good, so anything less than double-digit wins would be a major disappointment. If I was a Notre Dame fan, though, I would temper my enthusiasm. I don’t trust the offense. More significantly, I just don’t believe that the chemistry on this team will be all it needs to be given the off-field issues the team has faced and the obvious challenges Kelly has had dealing with some of his players. Last year the team got the breaks they needed to come out on top in several close games. This year I expect fewer of those breaks, and I expect two losses as a result — starting with Sept. 7 at Michigan. If they do lose that game and struggle again in any of their next big challenges then there is the real possibility that this team could really go off the rails — like this year’s edition of USC. If the Irish were a stock, in other words, I would sell it.
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