Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Louisville Cardinals Expert Picks with Betting Odds
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Louisville Cardinals, Monday September 2, 7:30 p.m. ET
Randomly, I drove several years ago from Louisville to South Bend as part of a longer trip. I can testify that it isn't very far - maybe three and a half hours of driving. They are practically neighbors, but this is just the second time that they have met each other on the field. It's an interesting matchup, but not for the typical reasons. It shouldn't be a hugely competitive game since Notre Dame is in a much better place right now. But there is a lot to watch, nonetheless.
Notre Dame has fairly high expectations after a solid season last year and a high ranking this year, and this will be our chance to see if they are ready to carry the burden of all that pressure. And Louisville, mercifully, enters a whole new era with the departure of Bobby Petrino and the arrival of Scott Satterfield. It's going to be a process, but seeing some real progress here would be an excellent start for the new head coach. This Monday nighter is probably a long way from the best game on the card this opening weekend - though it's not a great card overall - but for college football fans, there is certainly enough to keep this one interesting.
Notre Dame at Louisville Betting Storylines
I'm really high on the Satterfield hire. He wasn't the school's first choice, but they couldn't lure former QB Jeff Brohm away from Purdue. This is one heck of a consolation prize, though. Hiring Bobby Petrino again was a pathetic move of desperation for the school, and they need a total overhaul of pretty much everything after that era predictably went badly. He took over a team in transition at Appalachian State - both because he replaced Jerry Moore, who had coached the team for 24 years, and because his first year was the school's last in FCS before the jump to FBS. He had to deal with a whole lot of change, and it wasn't always easy, but he won bowl games in the last four years of his six years in the job and won the conference the last three years. And he left the team in great shape when he left. He built a stable, sustainable program, and that's just what Louisville needs. And even though he takes over a team with a lot of issues, he has more pieces to deal with by far than he is used to - a higher caliber of talent to work with. Satterfield may not jump right out of the gate for Louisville, but this is a hire that is going to look very, very good a few years from now.
But things are not going to be easy for Satterfield in the short term. He brought a staff he knows well - defensive coordinator Bryan Brown was in the same role at App State, and offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford was OC at App State before spending the last three seasons coaching the offensive line at NC State. But they have a pile of work to do. The offensive line at Louisville was a total mess last year and couldn't protect a quarterback or open anything up for a running back. Ledford needs to patch together something that can be more effective there. And they are up against a Notre Dame pass rush that was excellent last year and should have the pieces to be effective again now. It is quite possible, and probably even likely, that promising Louisville QB Jawon Pass will be running for his life all day. And Louisville's defense was embarrassingly porous in all aspects last year. They return nine of the 11 starters from last year, but that experience isn't always a good thing when what they have experience in is playing very poorly. Neither of those issues is the kind that can be fixed in a real hurry, but seeing some progress here would be really nice to see. Competence is the bar here.
Notre Dame at Louisville Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Notre Dame favored by 19 points, and that has fallen slightly to 18 points. About two-thirds of all bets have been on the Irish so far, so the line movement suggests that some sharp money has been on the Cardinals. The total has opened at 60 and has fallen at 54.5.
The Irish are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games in September. The Cardinals are a horrific 3-13 ATS in their last 16 home games, which tells you how poorly the Petrino era was going. They are just 1-7 ATS in their last eight in September and 1-11-1 ATS in their last 13 nonconference games. Louisville has gone "over" the total in seven of their last eight games.
Notre Dame at Louisville Predictions and Picks
I'm bullish in the long term on the Cardinals, but I don't like them here. Notre Dame is more experienced, much deeper, and just plain more ready. The odds here make the Irish the attractive play.
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