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Two suddenly struggling teams will face off here as the Duke Blue Devils host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has been a disappointment coming off their playoff run, and they barely escaped with a win over Virginia Tech in the most recent game. Duke, on the other hand, has been a disaster in recent weeks, losing three of their past four games. Oddsmakers have Notre Dame as an eight-point favorite for this one, which will be televised in the ACC Network.
Notre Dame entered the season with understandingly high expectations, but they haven't looked the part of a playoff team. Quarterback Ian Book has been inconsistent, and they got slaughtered by Michigan 2 weeks ago. It was supposed to be a bounce-back game, they barely beat Virginia Tech at home this past weekend. Still ranked #15 in the latest AP poll, they've got plenty of time to turn things around.
Duke got off to a hot start and it looked like they weren't going to have much trouble replacing quarterback Daniel Jones initially. Since then they've collapsed, however, and they've now lost three of their past four games entering this one. They got blown out by Virginia two weeks ago and lost at the goal line in embarrassing fashion this past week against North Carolina.
Notre Dame DisappointsNotre Dame has been having a disappointing season. After switching from Brandon Wimbush to Ian Book at quarterback last season the Fighting Irish took off, and they ended up making the playoff. Even though they got blown out in the first round of the playoff, it was still a monumental achievement and there was a lot of buzz coming into this season. Unfortunately, they've been unable to meet expectations, and enter this one with two losses. The first one was an understandable loss on the road against a very good Georgia team, but the second one was pretty embarrassing. Against a Michigan team that hadn't looked good in recent weeks, they got blown out, losing by a final score of 45-14.
Michigan's offense hadn't been able to score on anybody consistently prior to that, so giving up 45 points to the Wolverines was a major red flag for this Notre Dame defense. Then this past week they got Virginia Tech at home and they barely managed to escape with a one-point victory. Virginia Tech has been mostly lousy this season and actually lost to this Duke team by 35 points earlier this year, so that was another red flag for Notre Dame. Book has regressed considerably, and I'm not sure he's the answer at quarterback. Notre Dame has lost two of the three road games they played this season, and the only one they won was a game against Louisville where they didn't look all that impressive.
Duke InconsistentDuke has been having an odd year. They obviously lost to Alabama in Week 1 as was expected, and then they rattled off three straight wins. Since then though they've lost three of their past four games, to enter this one at an even 4-4. They lost in heartbreaking fashion last week in North Carolina when they had the ball at the goal line to win the game in the final minute. They turned the ball over on the one-yard line in a truly bizarre way, with their running back throwing an interception on a trick play. After two straight road games, they are now coming back home, and that could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Duke is also coming off a bye week, giving them extra time to heal up and prepare for this one.
The Blue Devils have a very good coach in David Cutcliffe, and anytime you have a great coach getting extra time to prepare it's especially important. Duke has fared very well coming off their bye in recent years, as they are 8-1 against the spread in their last nine games following bye weeks. Notre Dame has a good secondary but their defense is mediocre, so getting the ground game going will be key here. Quarterback Quentin Harris is a dynamic athlete who is also the team's second-leading rusher, so how he does with his legs might be the key to this game. These teams have only had one common opponent this season, and that's Virginia Tech. Duke beat Virginia Tech on the road by 35 points, while Notre Dame only beat them by one point at home.
Trends, courtesy of Covers.com Blue Devils are:
- 6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. independent teams
- 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games following a bye week
- 36-14-1 ATS in their last 51 non-conference games
Fighting Irish are:
- 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 games in November
- 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 road games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I think Duke keeps this one very close. Notre Dame simply hasn't been at all impressive this year, and they've laid a number of duds recently. They only beat Virginia Tech by one point at home this past week, a team that Duke already beat by 35 earlier this year. The Blue Devils are always excellent coming off their bye week, and David Cutcliffe will have his team ready to go here. They could even win this one outright.
Prediction: Duke +8
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the under a lot here. Book simply isn't what many people thought he was at quarterback, and I think he is going to struggle against this underrated Duke defense. Notre Dame has really struggled to score points on the road this season, and I expect that to continue here. Quentin Harris is mediocre as a passer, and he certainly isn't going to light up the scoreboard for the Blue Devils either.