Gregory Bull/Associated Press
In eight-plus seasons under coach Brian Kelly Notre Dame is 12-7 straight up but only 8-10-1 against the spread versus the Big Ten. The Irish hit the road this week for an interesting matchup with Northwestern on Saturday evening in Evanston.
College football point spread: The Fighting Irish opened as seven-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 32.5-24.0 Fighting Irish (College football picks on every game)
Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread
Notre Dame reached 8-0 on the season and 4-1 ATS over its last five games with a 44-22 win/cover over Navy in San Diego last week. The Irish fumbled the ball away on their first play from scrimmage against the Midshipmen, then scored touchdowns on four of their next five possessions to lead 27-0 at halftime. Notre Dame let Navy get within 37-22 early in the fourth quarter but immediately drove 75 yards to a final touchdown and held on for the cover as a 21-point favorite.
On the night the Irish out-gained the Midshipmen 584-344. Notre Dame is now 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS, averaging 40 points per game, since inserting Ian Book as the starter at quarterback. With last week’s victory, the Irish remained ranked in the top four of the polls, as they seek a trip to the College Football Playoff.
Why the Northwestern Wildcats can cover the spread
The Wildcats are 4-0 SU the last four weeks and 3-1-1 ATS over the last five after upsetting Wisconsin at home last week 31-17. Northwestern spotted the Badgers the first seven points of the game, then scored the next 14 and led 14-10 at the half. The Wildcats then scored the first 17 points out of the locker room to take control, on their way toward the outright victory as four-point dogs.
On the day, Northwestern out-gained Wisconsin 349-323, out-rushed the Badgers 182-165 and held a 34/26 advantage in time of possession. The Wildcats are now 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS as underdogs this season. Northwestern is also now 32-15 SU and 29-17-1 ATS with Clayton Thorson starting at quarterback.
Smart betting pick
Notre Dame owns the better running game and the better defense in this matchup, and that should be enough. Plus, the Wildcats are coming off a big win over a Big Ten divisional rival and might be ripe for a letdown. Smart money gives the points here with the Irish.
College football betting trends
The total has gone under in 26 of Northwestern’s last 36 games at home.
Notre Dame is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games after consecutive ATS losses.
Notre Dame is 11-4 SU in its last 15 games vs the Big Ten.
All college football odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week’s top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.