It’s a ranked matchup in Durham, North Carolina as #11 Notre Dame will visit #17 Duke this Saturday (9/30/23). Get Notre Dame vs. Duke odds, predictions and picks below as our best bet is under 52.5 points.
Notre Dame Vs. Duke Prediction & Best Bet
In one of the more fascinating matchups of the week, this one might be a closer contest than many may have expected before the season started. Notre Dame got off to a hot start with new transfer QB Sam Hartman, but sputtered a bit offensively in a 17-14 home loss to Ohio State, but it’s worth noting that the defense had an outstanding day against Ryan Day’s OSU offense, and was only broken at the end by some outstanding catches by the star buckeye wideouts.
Speaking of Hartman, as a former ACC quarterback with Wake Forest, he has a bit of a track record against Duke. He’s 1-1 in two matchups against the Blue Devils, but he’s been sharp in both games with a total of 749 passing yards, six touchdowns, and one pick, as he’s completed over 63% of his passes between those two outings. Of course it’s a new season with new teams, and Duke’s defense has looked extremely sharp this season, especially against the pass, so it’ll be interesting to see how Hartman is able to attack this defense with arguably a worse receiver corps than he was working with at Wake.
There’s one big difference between Hartman’s two showings against Duke; in the second one, which was the loss and the game in which he threw an interception, he was going up against a team coached by Mike Elko, who joined the program last season and is a key driving force behind the defense’s improvement. That one was also on the road in Durham, as this one will be, so after Hartman rebounded from one 2022 loss in North Carolina against NC State, we’ll see if he can do it again.
5.5 is a strange football number, and while Notre Dame should be able to win by a touchdown, I hesitate to trust this offense enough to pull away on the road after a shaky home performance. Yes, the Ohio State defense is better than this Duke group, but not by that much, and away from the friendly South Bend environment, it could be a similar outing. Instead, let’s back the under.
Duke is seventh in the country by defensive EPA per snap, while Notre Dame is 22nd, despite the fact that these teams have played top opponents like Ohio State and Clemson. In terms of pace, Duke is 100th in the country in offensive snaps per game and Notre Dame is 96th, due in part to the fact that the Irish are 112th in the country in terms of fewest seconds per offensive play, and the Blue Devils are 99th. The defenses are solid and the pace won’t be there; to me, this one is a no-brainer given a relatively high number of 52.5, even given the strong QB matchup between Hartman and Riley Leonard.
Notre Dame Vs. Duke Prediction & Best Bet: Under 52.5 (-110)
Notre Dame Vs. Duke Betting Odds
Notre Dame is a 5.5 point road favorite, with -110 odds on either side of that line. For the total of 52.5, right around a fairly significant football number, you can also bet either side at -110.
Notre Dame Vs. Duke Key Matchups
With star quarterbacks on both sides, limiting their output will be key for the opposing defenses, both of which are elite units. Let’s take a look at how that might play out.
Sam Hartman Vs. Duke Pass Defense
We’ve already talked about Hartman’s sterling track record against Duke, but let’s take a look at what he’s done this year. He’s been one of the most efficient passers in the country with a completion rate over 70% and 14 touchdowns to no interceptions, although PFF’s big time throw and turnover-worthy play metrics might suggest that he’s due for some regression in both areas. As has been the case for his whole career, and was especially on display against Ohio State, pressure is the best way to get to him, but that’s not a particularly strong area for a generally solid Duke defense.
Even without an elite push up front, Duke has the fourth best per-snap EPA against the pass in all of FBS this season, led by the nation’s best secondary as per PFF. Corners Joshua Pickett and Myles Jones have been standouts with coverage grades around 90 and three interceptions between the duo, while Brandon Johnson has also chipped in nicely with a coverage grade of 81.9. These defenders will give Hartman a tough time, but he could make a couple of big plays against a weaker safety group if the pass rush gives him time to do so.
Duke Ground Attack Vs. Notre Dame Run Defense
Duke has run one of the more balanced offenses in the country, with the country’s 30th-best passing offense by per-snap EPA, while they’re 34th in the same category for rushing plays. With a hyper-elite Notre Dame secondary, running the ball and taking control of pace in their home stadium is Duke’s path to hanging around in this one. Jordan Waters has had a great start to the year at 6.6 yards per carry and 7 touchdowns, while Leonard himself has contributed over 200 yards and 4 scores on the ground.
Notre Dame’s run prevention unit is solid, with the 51st-best per-snap EPA in the nation, but nowhere close to their air defense. Still, there are some standout performers in the middle of this defense, as linebacker Jack Kiser and d-linemen Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Donovan Hinish have all put up stop rates over 12%. This could force Duke to run the ball outside of the tackle box, making for an interesting positional matchup.