Big college football matchup on Saturday as Navy hopes to continue their strong play this season as they take a 7-1 SU record into South Bend, Indiana to take on Notre Dame. Notre Dame is 7-2 this year but took a big hit in late October when they lost 45-14 at Michigan. They barely escaped the following week at home, beating Virginia Tech by 1 as -17.5 point favorites. They did get some swagger back at Duke a week later but the vibe is that this Irish team is something of a disappointment. That might be more perception than reality.
Navy’s run defense hasn’t been anything special this year and particularly against teams that prioritize the rushing game. Michigan gashed the Irish defense for 303 yards rushing in their blowout win and there’s few teams that prioritize the run more than Navy. The Midshipmen lead the nation in rushing yards per game with 357.9 and have done a good job putting points on the board averaging 40.1 PPG. That could be a problem here for Notre Dame as their offense has stagnated as they’ve stepped up in class this year making their 34.2 PPG number a bit misleading. They could struggle with the vastly improved Navy defense–last year Navy allowed 34 PPG, this year they’ve allowed just 18 PPG.
One of the first things I learned as a young sports bettor is that Notre Dame is a team that is consistently overvalued due to their status as a team beloved by the betting ‘public’. That is obviously something of an oversimplification but it doesn’t negate the fact that the Irish have been a longterm loser against the spread. Since 1992, they’re 13 games under .500 against the spread in all games, 23 games under .500 as a favorite ATS and 14 games under .500 at home against the spread. Navy, meanwhile, has been a great underdog and road team in that same timeframe. Since 1992, they’re 101-61 ATS as a dog and 85-46 ATS on the road.
They’ve also dominated pointspread play against Notre Dame of late. They enter on an 18-8 ATS run overall along with an 11-2 ATS run at South Bend. Straight up victories have been few and far between, however, but Navy could see this year’s contest as their best shot at an outright win over Notre Dame in quite some time. The Irish don’t cover spreads as a home favorite against opponents that run the ball well. They’re on a 5-30 ATS run as home chalk when allowing 200+ yards rushing.