No. 15 Notre Dame heads back on the road to take on Duke as an 8-point favorite on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT, ACCN).
After opening -7 at Circa Sports in Las Vegas, the Fighting Irish (6-2 straight up, 4-4 against the spread) were bet up north of a touchdown during early-week trading. The total opened at 52, but action has driven it down to 51.
The Irish head to Durham after narrowly surviving in South Bend against Virginia Tech last week. Coach Brian Kelly’s team needed an 18-play, 87-yard drive in the final minutes of regulation to escape with a 21-20 victory as 17.5-point chalk.
Following an abysmal 73-yard passing effort against Michigan (albeit in poor weather conditions), quarterback Ian Book struggled again in the pocket against the Hokies, throwing two interceptions and having a third one called back due to a roughing-the-passer penalty. But the senior QB showed great poise on the final drive, converting on two key fourth-downs and running the ball into the end-zone for the game-winning TD.
Kelly believes that Book can build on the momentum as his team prepares to face the Blue Devils.
“He’s gone through the worst of it,” Kelly told reporters Monday. “This should be the best of it for him. This should be a great launching pad for him to go out and really be excited about playing and play with great confidence.”
Junior right tackle Robert Hainsey fractured his ankle against Virginia Tech and is expected to miss the rest of the season, but the Irish should receive a boost at running back with the anticipated return of Tony Jones Jr., who will again pair with Jafar Armstrong in the backfield. The Irish squared off against strong run defenses in their last two games against Michigan and Va Tech, but are set to face a Duke defense that has surrendered an average of over 177 rushing yards per game to opponents in its last three contests.
The Irish have won eight of their last nine against ACC competition, but their Saturday opponent was the last team to beat them outright as a double-digit underdog. That came in Week 4 of the 2016 season, when Daniel Jones, now the New York Giants’ starting QB, led the Blue Devils to a 38-35 victory as 19-point dogs.
Duke (4-4 SU and ATS) is the second of four consecutive Notre Dame opponents coming off a bye week. The Blue Devils entered their break off a 20-17 loss to rival North Carolina the week prior.
Dual-threat QB Quentin Harris leads the offense for a Duke team that is 12-15 ATS against ranked opponents under head coach David Cutcliffe. The UNDER is 17-9-1 in those spots, and UNDER bettors have cashed the last seven times Duke has squared off against a ranked team. However, the total has gone OVER in six of Duke’s last seven games.
Fans should take note that for the first and only time this season, the Fighting Irish will air exclusively on the ACC Network.
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