When the Irish are in Vegas, it’s logical to structure a preview around Notre Dame betting lines, right?
As head coach Marcus Freeman and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish descend on Las Vegas to take on the 16th-ranked BYU Cougars, here’s a look at a few of the betting lines in this contest, the results of which could dictate the outcome of the Bible Brawl in Sin City. For the purposes of this, the spread and money line aren’t being discussed, as those are obvious factors in the game’s result.
1st half spread (Notre Dame -2.5)
Notre Dame is slightly favored in this contest, and thus they’re 2.5-point favorites in the first half. This first-half spread is more critical than it seems. BYU is a talented team, but even more than that, they are deep and experienced. They returned 10 starters on the defensive side of the ball, and their coaching staff has lauded their defensive depth. Their linebackers are their most talented defensive group, but they can rotate in close to ten players through their secondary. That makes the first half absolutely pivotal.
That secondary depth could be critical against a thin Notre Dame wide receiver corps. The Irish have really only played four of their seven scholarship receivers, meaning that stamina as the game goes on could be an issue. To prevent that from being a major issue, the Irish want to be in a position where they can run the ball frequently in the fourth quarter. If they have to pass the ball late in the game, the advantage certainly tilts BYU’s way. So the Irish need to get off to a fast start and beat this first-half spread comfortably.
Audric Estime O/U Rushing Yards (57.5)
This might be the most critical Notre Dame betting line tomorrow. The Irish want to base their offensive success around their ground game. That starts with Audric Estime who posted 134 rushing yards last week on 17 carries. Should the game script allow, Estime should receive in the vicinity of 15 carries. If he only picks up 57 yards on those touches, the Irish are in big trouble. BYU’s rush defense has been pretty shoddy so far this season, and the Irish need to dominate in the run game.
To put it simply, if the under hits on this line, the Irish are nearly certain to lose. Quite frankly, Notre Dame needs to not only beat the over here, but they also need to clear it by 20-30 yards, along with getting their other running backs involved.
Jaren Hall Passing Yards (251.5)
Notre Dame’s rush defense has been largely quite solid this year, and the BYU offense hasn’t shown much in the way of a ground game since their opener. The ceiling of their offense is fully dependent on quarterback Jaren Hall. He’s an exceptional dual threat, so the Irish will have their hands full. If the over hits on this one, it’s not a death knell for the Irish, but they need to keep Hall in that 250-275 mark in order to force BYU to beat them on the ground. If Jaren Hall is on his A game, the Irish have their hands full, and this game becomes a much more difficult ask.
The Over/Under: 51
Always an interesting question, do the Irish want the over or the under to hit – which gives them a better shot at winning the game? The answer, here, until proven otherwise, has to be the over. The Irish are 0-2 when the under hits, 1-0 when the over hits, and 1-0 when there’s a push. The Irish offense seems to generate momentum from needing to outscore teams (as they did against UNC, and as they had to in the second half versus Cal). BYU has never scored more than 23 points against Notre Dame, but you figure they may top that number tomorrow with this strong offensive unit. BYU is averaging a touch over 34 points a game. Even if the Irish can hold them to a touchdown under that average, around 27 points, they’ll need the over to hit in order to outscore BYU.
So to recap, the Irish need to cover the first-half spread, and they need Estime to blow by his rushing yards prop. Additionally, they need to control Jaren Hall and preferably keep him under that 250 yards passing mark. And finally, in order to keep pace with BYU, and continue their offensive resurgence, the final Notre Dame betting line to keep an eye on is the over/under, where the Irish want to blow by the 51-point mark.