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Navy and Notre Dame travel to Dublin, Ireland to kick off their 2012 college football season. For those of us on the East Coast, that means we get a taste of what life is like for our friends out West. We get to wake up Saturday morning, have some coffee and a little breakfast, while we kick back and watch a little Notre Dame football. How nice. Almost enough to make you want to move out West. Notre Dame is a hefty -16.5 point favorite in this one with a total of 57 at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
This game is one of the most popular games on the board Saturday, in terms of the amount of action sportsbooks are taking on it. No surprise there. It's Notre Dame. Notre Dame games are always among the most heavily bet week in and week out. Also no surprise that over 70% of the action coming in is on the Irish. Notre Dame sure has their faithful backers. Which should always make the sharp bettor look real close at the other side for that increased value.
Notre Dame had a streak of 43-0 against Navy dating back to 1964 before Navy broke through in 2007 with a thrilling triple OT win. Navy lost by 6 in 2008, but won straight up in 2009 and 2010. All of those games were close, suggesting that perhaps Navy had closed the gap significantly. But then, hey, we know that Notre Dame is always going to have the better talent in this matchup. The better talent, combined with good coaching, is going to prevail and that's exactly what happened last year. Notre Dame 56 Navy 14.
Both of these teams averaged around 30 points per game a year ago, but Navy also gave up that many defensively while Notre Dame gave up around 20 ppg. Of more significance, is that Notre Dame played a schedule that was immensely more difficult than Navy's. They beat Michigan State and held the high powered Stanford offense to 28 points in a 28-14 loss.
All signs point towards Notre Dame football being on the upswing with Brian Kelly entering year number 3. Their offense returns 8 starters and is relatively intact from a year ago and we all remember what Kelly did at Cincinnati. Navy hasn't had a defense in years. Sure, they have held some teams on their weak schedule to a couple of touchdowns, but when they face real teams that can move the ball, it ain't pretty. They were tagged for 63 by Southern Miss last year, 38 by East Carolina and 35 by Air Force. The difference here is that Notre Dame has a defense to go along with that offense.
If you're looking for something to hang your Navy hat on, consider the travel and unfamiliar surroundings which could be a distraction for both teams. Also consider that the Navy option attack is never easy on opposing defenses and could potentially keep this one closer than expected.
But we think Notre Dame is the side here. This is a talent mismatch on both sides of the ball, particularly the Notre Dame offense, which should be lights out, going up against a Navy defense, that is younger and more inexperienced than it was last year, and last year's squad was 92nd against the run, 101st in 1st downs allowed and 105th in pass efficiency. (They even moved a back up QB to outside linebacker!) We hate to lay big numbers in college football, but think it's the only way to go here. But grab it before it goes to -17! Notre Dame -16.5
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