DraftKings MD has the Fighting Irish as -20.5 point favorites with a 50.5 total when these longtime rivals meet for the opening game of the 2023-2024 college football season.
New Look Midshipmen?
Navy promoted defensive coordinator Brian Newberry to head coach this summer, and his task is to return the Midshipmen to prominence. He has the luxury of returning nine starters to a defense ranked third in the country in rushing yards and second in the American Athletic Association in total yards allowed last season.
Newberry also has the good fortune of returning four offensive linemen and a quarterback who rushed for 309 yards and five touchdowns (TDs). QB Tai Lavatai also threw for 787 yards with five scoring strikes but could split playing time with Blake Hovath as the two are battling for the starting job.
Navy expects to throw the ball more often than in previous seasons – wideout Jayden Umberger led the Midshipmen last season and should be the top target along with wide receiver Mark Walker. Midshipmen leading rusher Daba Forfana also returns for his junior season, and hopefully, this unit can improve upon their 88th-best 23.3 points scored per game from a season ago.
Notre Dame Looks to Return to National Prominence
Marcus Freeman begins his second season as head coach coming off a 9-5 season. Wake Forest sixth-year senior transfer Sam Hartman has thrown for nearly 13,000 yards during his college career, and he joins an inexperienced offense with just five starters returning.
Hartman can sling it, and he will have some dependable hands in wideout Lorenzo Styles Jr and TE Mitchell Evans snagged a TD last season. Hartman will have one of the best offensive lines in the college game protecting him, and that should bode well for leading rusher Audric Estime to do his thing.
Notre Dame returns seven to a defense that allowed a 32nd-best 23 points per game. The defensive line is the Fighting Irish’ biggest concern, but they are strong at the linebacker and secondary spots. Middle linebacker JD Bertrand led the team in tackles last season cornerback Benjamin Morrison picked off six passes last season.
Navy Midshipmen vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Betting Preview
Both sides have question marks on offense, and my best bet is Notre Dame Under 50.5 -105 at FanDuel Maryland.
Notre Dame has a lifetime mark of 77-13-1 against Navy, but -1100 at Caesars is too expensive for a moneyline bet. You could add Notre Dame to a parlay, but -1100 is too much juice to pay for a straight-up Fighting Irish victory.
Barstool Sportsbook has Notre Dame -20 at -109. Notre Dame should win this game, but they opened at -18.5, so maybe laying that many points isn’t a good idea.
That leaves the 50.5 total, and I believe this will be a low-scoring affair on Saturday.
The Fighting Irish have a new QB, and he’s a good one. Still, the receivers aren’t as far advanced as their running game, and I expect Notre Dame to look to run the football between their two All-American tackles and let Estime try to do his thing and let Hartman get comfortable with his new team.
Navy will run plays under multiple formations this season, but they were one of the worst-scoring teams in the country last season, facing a pretty robust Notre Dame defense. The Mids could throw a wrinkle or two and catch the Fighting Irish defense sleeping, but they’ll have difficulty scoring the football against Notre Dame.
Finally, this is a big-time rivalry, and we should expect the young men to come out hitting. Defense is the calling card for both schools, and this game will be closer than some expect but will finish under 50.5 points.
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