Bettors push point spread toward Navy in first ranked clash vs. Notre Dame in 40 years

Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry, Nov 1 2019
Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)
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College football’s longest continuous intersectional rivalry enters its 93rd straight meeting, with early bettors favoring the Midshipmen over the Irish, driving the point spread down from an opener of -11.

This is the first ranked clash between the two programs since 1978, when then-No. 15 Notre Dame cruised to a 27-7 victory over No. 11 Navy. The Irish have kicked off the betting favorite in each matchup since and are 36-4 straight up but 15-25 against the spread (37.5%) during this series span.

No. 23 Navy at No. 16 Notre Dame (-7, 55)

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. CT (NBC)

Line movement: Oddsmakers opened Notre Dame an 11-point favorite on Sunday, the line adjusting to -7 late in the week.

An opening total of 55 was bet down to 54 before a return to the original number.

Irish D dominating in South Bend

The Notre Dame (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) defense ruled in a 38-7 rout at Duke on Saturday, limiting the Blue Devils to 10 first downs and 197 total yards. The confidence-building performance feeds into a dominating string of outings in South Bend hosting top-25 programs.

Facing ranked opponents, head coach Brian Kelly is 11-4 SU and 10-5 ATS (66.7%) all-time at Notre Dame Stadium, topping the number in five straight. The defense has not allowed more than 20 points in the last six games under these conditions, holding foes to 7.6 points per game below market projections.

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The Irish enter on a 16-game win streak in South Bend, the third-longest ever at Notre Dame Stadium. When laying less than two touchdowns on the oddsboard during this run, Kelly and Co. are 5-2 ATS, besting opponents by a 33.3 to 18.0 average score line.

Navy’s option offense clicking

Navy (7-1 SU, 6-2 ATS) is coming off an easy 56-10 victory over UConn. The Midshipmen tallied 573 yards of offense and put up a pair of touchdowns in each quarter.

Jumping out and maintaining a lead is the team’s strength. Navy has trailed on the scoreboard just 39:01 minutes all season out of 480 played.

The triple-option flexbone offense leads the nation with 357.9 rushing yards per game. The constant line-stacking by opposing defenses allows for massive efficiency through the air the few times the unit goes to the pass. Navy tops the country with 13.2 yards per passing attempt, though it throws the ball on just 12.6% of offensive plays.

Head coach Ken Niumatalolo is 4-12 SU but 10-5-1 ATS (66.7%) all-time against ranked opponents, kicking off an underdog in each (13.7 average line). This includes five matchups against Notre Dame, in which Navy has covered all but one contest. In the 16 overall ranked clashes, Niumatalolo is just 1-4 SU and 1-3-1 ATS catching fewer than 12 points on the oddsboard.

Notable trends

Notre Dame is 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS as the betting favorite of fewer than 17 points when QB Ian Book attempts at least 10 passes.

The UNDER is 37-23-1 (61.7%) all-time when Kelly leads Notre Dame in South Bend. Hosting ranked opponents, the bet is 10-4-1 (71.4%) with a -7.0 margin (52.6 avg. total).

Navy is 23-9-1 ATS (71.8%) in its last 33 games after putting up at least 40 points in its previous effort.

Trends compiled with queries performed at SportsDatabase.

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