Navy vs. Notre Dame kickoffs this Saturday at 2:30pm EST as a neutral site game located in Dublin Ireland. The Fighting Irish are currently a -21 point favorite and -1100 on the moneyline while the total is set at 50.5. Read on for more Navy vs. Notre Dame best bets and predictions as this number may be a tad inflated.
Navy Vs. Notre Dame Prediction & Best Bet
As if kicking off the start of the college football season in another country wasn’t enough to create chaos on the football field, both Navy and Notre Dame are currently going through an identity change that will really throw a wrench into the game script. So much so that this spread may be a tad inflated as Notre Dame’s defense gets the daunting task of defending the new look Navy triple option attack with little to no tape on them.
After running the ball at an astronomical rate in 2022, Navy’s offense is expected to implement a moderate amount of passing under new head coach Brian Newberry. This gives them a fighting chance in long down situations, as well as keep opposing secondaries on their heels and punish them for cheating up in an effort to plug gaps. Simply put, this is a linebacker’s worst nightmare to defend against for the first game in the season.
It’s not as if Notre Dame’s defense was respectable at defending the run in the first place as they ranked 100th in Def Rush Explosiveness over the course of last season. They surrendered on average 131.5 rush yards per game on 3.9 yards a carry per TeamRankings.
The lack of stuffing explosiveness is especially alarming as the triple option gives the Midshipmen the ability to gain chunks at a time should Notre Dame’s second level struggle out the gate to make the right read based off the pulling guards. Especially since Navy excels at taking care of the ball with an above average havoc allowed rank.
Navy Vs. Notre Dame Odds
While I remain bullish of Navy’s chances of keeping this tight, oddsmakers tend to think otherwise as they have kept this number firmly at +20.5. It has ticked down a few times to a flat +20 and has climbed to +21 in some instances as well. In most cases I would advocate for patience and grab a +21 when it becomes available as that is a key football number, yet it may trend in the other direction as we near kickoff.
As for the total, oddsmakers think points will be scored at a moderately quick pace as they opened the number at 50.5. That total has yet to move in recent weeks, staying firm at the opening number. With Notre Dame’s defense being vulnerable to Navy’s new look offense out of the gate, a bet on the over may be in store. Especially with the Fighting Irish’s offense expected to elevate off the play of new star transfer quarterback Sam Hartman.
Navy Vs. Notre Dame Key Matchups
Can Sam Hartman find success right away with his new team? Who wins the battle in the trenches?
Sam Hartman Vs. Navy Secondary
While consistent quarterback play eluded the Irish last season, they should have zero issue in that department with the arrival of rocket arm Sam Hartman. He possesses a dynamic down field passing ability that Notre Dame lacked last year, allowing the Fighting Irish to branch out of their run heavy type of offense and keep defenses guessing with a more ideal blend of play calling.
sam hartman. sunday ball placement. pic.twitter.com/rNfgujEkUL
— Kyron Samuels (@kyronsamuels) August 15, 2023
Should he get in a groove early with his new cast of weapons, then opposing defenses will no longer be able to routinely stack the box as Hartman can pick apart the gaps on the outside with ease. Potentially detrimental to the Navy secondary as this group ranked dead last in Def Pass Explosiveness, a unit that is very susceptible to getting beaten over the top.
Battle in the trenches
With the Navy secondary in danger of getting routinely punished by the deep ball, it’s more vital than ever that their defensive line can generate some sort of pressure in the backfield. This forces the ball to get out of Hartman’s hands quicker, giving Navy the chance to keep Notre Dame’s playmakers out in front of them.
Notre Dame possesses a stout pair of tackles in Joe Alt and Blake Fisher, yet their guard play draws question marks. Especially at right guard with Andrew Kristofic grading out well below average for the position. With Navy being able to pressure in the middle, this forces Hartman into scrambling situations and potentially throwing into less-than-ideal windows off the run.