Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame Week 5 Odds & Pick: How Our Experts Are Betting This Top-10 Matchup
Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images. Pictured: Alec Pierce (12) of the Cincinnati Bearcats.
- Cincinnati and Notre Dame face off in a top-10 matchup.
- The Bearcats are coming off a bye week, while the Fighting Irish crushed Wisconsin last week.
- Our experts provide their best bets.
Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame Odds
-110o / -110u
|Notre Dame Odds|
-110o / -110u
Our Best Bets for No. 7 Cincinnati vs. No. 9 Notre Dame
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff’s best bets for Saturday’s top-10 matchup between No. 7 Cincinnati and No. 9 Notre Dame.
Click one of the bets in the “Pick” column below in order to navigate to that specific section in this article.
|Notre Dame ML +105|
|1H Under 24.5|
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
By Doug Ziefel
The Bearcats are going to make their statement as to why they should be in the College Football Playoff this weekend and expose the Fighting Irish.
It all starts with the defense for Cincinnati. It’s held opponents to under 17 points per game and is led by arguably the best secondary in the country that has two NFL-caliber cornerbacks.
The Bearcats are going to be able to rush the passer against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish rank 129th out of 130 teams with 21 sacks allowed. There are also questions about who will start at quarterback for the Irish as a banged-up Jack Coan has been splitting reps with Drew Pyne.
On the other side of the ball stands Desmond Ridder. The Heisman hopeful has been a big factor through the air and on the ground. He’s averaging 249 yards per game passing while completing 65% of his passes. Ridder’s rushing ability was huge against Indiana, as he ran for 45 yards and scored once.
If Ridder doesn’t have the ball in his hands, it’s most likely being handed to running back Jerome Ford. Ford has carried the ball for 300 yards at 6.6 yards a carry.
Ford and Ridder could be a potent combo against an Irish defense that ranks 119th in rushing yards allowed.
Going into South Bend is always a tough challenge for visitors, but on the field, the Bearcats hold advantages on both sides of the ball. Cincinnati will win this game and become a household name after this weekend.
Pick: Cincinnati -1.5 (Play to -2.5)
By Alex Hinton
This season has already been chaotic with 25 teams ranked in the AP Top 25 already going down. Outside of Alabama and Georgia, it feels like anyone could sneak in the College Football Playoff. That’s the perfect setup for a Group of Five team like Cincinnati.
Cincy knows this, and both teams through the month of September undefeated despite a few close calls for Notre Dame.
Now, Cincinnati has an opportunity to pick up a top-10 road win against a brand-name program to add to its resume. With its CFP hopes alive, Cincinnati will be extremely motivated to win this game.
Of course, it takes more than motivation to win a football game.
Cincinnati will have the best quarterback on the field in Desmond Ridder, regardless of whether Notre Dame starter Jack Coan is able to play through his ankle injury or not.
In fact, Ridder is already talking a big game.
Ridder is good enough to back up his talk. For the season, he’s completing 65.1% of his passes with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that Cincinnati knows the tendencies of Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who left Cincinnati for Notre Dame in the offseason.
On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati’s defense is a bad matchup for Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish’s rebuilt offensive line is both injured and struggling. They can’t run the ball at all and rank at the bottom of the FBS in Line Yards, Rushing Success Rate, and Havoc Allowed.
Don’t be fooled by the 41-point outburst last week. The Fighting Irish had 248 yards of total offense. Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz provided all the offense it needed.
Notre Dame will have a hard time blocking Cincinnati edge rusher Myjai Sanders and the Bearcats pass rush.
Cincinnati already has one win over Indiana a few weeks ago. Once Cincinnati knocks off Notre Dame, it may not be welcome in the state of Indiana any time soon.
Pick: Cincinnati -1.5 (Play to -2.5)
The Cincinnati Bearcats travel to South Bend to match up against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a clash of top-10 teams. This game will have massive implications and is essentially a must-win for each side to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Notre Dame is undefeated but has won all four games by the skin of its teeth. It went to overtime with Florida State, snuck past Toledo by a field goal, and escaped against both Purdue and Wisconsin.
The Fighting Irish have seen their offensive line struggle to establish the run and protect Jack Coan. The Irish have averaged just 2.3 yards per rushing attempt this season ranking them 122nd in the country.
Meanwhile, Coan will be playing in this game a little banged up after leaving the Wisconsin game early with an apparent leg injury. He has been under constant harassment this season after taking 21 sacks through just four games.
Cincinnati has one of the best defensive units in the country. The Bearcats have allowed just under five yards per pass attempt, which ranks fifth in the nation.
The defensive line duo of Myjai Sanders and Curtis Brooks ranks inside the top five in the AAC in terms of pass-rushing grade, per Pro Football Focus. They will aid the front seven in disrupting the Notre Dame offense through its offensive line woes.
Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder has been great through his three games this season. He showed resilience in the Bearcats’ come-from-behind victory over Indiana and can fit the ball into tight throwing windows. That will be important against a tough Notre Dame secondary with safety Kyle Hamilton roaming.
The Bearcats enjoyed a bye last week while Notre Dame went to war with Wisconsin. The extra week’s rest and preparation will prove pivotal in this matchup.
I’m backing Cincinnati to prevail in what will be the biggest game in the history of the program.
Pick: Cincinnati -1.5 (Play to -2.5)
I think Cincy is the side here against a Notre Dame team I’ve continued to downgrade each week despite a 4-0 record. Let’s just take a look at its wins so far:
- Beat a winless Florida State team in overtime (FSU lost at home to Jacksonville State)
- Stole a win at home over Toledo with a last-minute TD (Toledo lost the next week at home against Colorado State)
- Beat Purdue by 14 but only led, 17-13, in the fourth quarter and was actually outgained by the Boilermakers
- Beat Wisconsin, 41-13, in one of the most misleading final scores we will see all season.
In that victory last week, Notre Dame actually trailed, 13-10, in the fourth quarter before putting up 31 points in the final frame thanks to two pick-sixes and a kick return for a touchdown.
The Irish ran the ball 34 times for nine net yards and gave up six sacks. And if you strip out the quarterback stats, the ND running backs ran the ball 20 times for 39 yards. Wisconsin ended up outgaining ND, 318-248.
The Irish simply can’t run the ball behind a struggling offensive line that has already allowed 20 sacks in four games. To put that into perspective, they only allowed 16 total in 13 games back in 2019.
I don’t expect the rushing attack to do much once again, so that will leave the ND offense up to a potentially hobbled and already immobile Jack Coan against an elite Cincinnati secondary.
Cincinnati will also benefit from having a bye last week, while ND played a physical game against Wisconsin. The Bearcats should come into this one much fresher, and the extra preparation doesn’t hurt.
ND can’t keep getting away with these close, fluky wins, and this veteran Cincy team is up for the task to end ND’s 26-game home winning streak.
There’s also some bad blood between the players and new ND defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who left Cincy for the same job after last season.
That doesn’t hurt from a motivational standpoint, but I’m not sure Cincy needs any more for this game.
Pick: Cincinnati ML
Notre Dame Moneyline +105
I’ll be the contrarian here. Want to know the last time the Irish have dropped a game at Notre Dame Stadium? Try September 2017 against a Georgia team that went on to play for the national title.
For all the crap that Notre Dame takes for coming up short in numerous playoff games, this is a program that has been remarkably consistent in the last 3-4 years.
The Irish defense has slowly improved in each of its first four games with Marcus Freeman easing into his first year as new defensive coordinator. Freeman coached against Desmond Ridder and this Bearcat offense every day in practice a year ago.
He will have his troops ready to battle against a dynamic Cincy offense that he knows well. Kyle Hamilton continues to fly around in the secondary, and senior linebacker Drew White anchors this defense in the middle.
On the other side of the ball, the Notre Dame offensive line issues are certainly real. Cincinnati will look to feast on a unit that has already allowed 20 sacks this season.
I expect Jack Coan to be healthy enough to get the start for the Irish, and he will certainly need to be better than he was against Wisconsin a week ago.
Despite a lot of issues, the Notre Dame offense has made some big plays when needed to pull out all four games thus far in the year. Kevin Austin has been Coan’s go-to target in the passing game, and he will challenge this Bearcat secondary.
Ultimately, I believe both offenses will struggle to sustain drives in this game. Notre Dame has made a habit of winning hard-fought games throughout this season, and I don’t see that changing Saturday.
Give me the Irish on the moneyline, as Bearcat futures crumble to pieces.
Pick: Notre Dame ML +105
The total in this game is likely suppressed due to the injury suffered by Notre Dame senior quarterback Jack Coan last week against Wisconsin.
He is making progress this week and should be a game-time decision. If he can’t go for the game, it will likely be Drew Pyne who gets the nod, and he was serviceable last week and will be able to step in if called upon.
The Irish and the Bearcats both have shown the ability to put up big points this season. Notre Dame ranks 38th in FBS scoring offense, averaging 35.3 yards per game, while Cincinnati comes in at ninth in the same metric, putting up 43 points per game so far this season.
Cincinnati has the 101st ranked strength of schedule so far this season, per Massey Ratings. This speaks to its three wins over Miami (Ohio), Murray State and a 2-2 Indiana. Notre Dame, meanwhile, owns the eighth-hardest schedule season to date.
Cincy did catch a break by having its bye the week before Notre Dame. It should be rested and well prepared for what will be its biggest game of the season.
Cincinnati ranks 12th in scoring defense, allowing only 15 points per game so far this season. I think this is an anomaly given it’s played only three games and its aforementioned strength of schedule.
Notre Dame ranks 67th in FBS scoring defense, giving up 23.3 points per game. This is weighted heavily by recent wins over low-scoring Purdue and Wisconsin, which both rank in the bottom third of FBS in scoring offense.
I think a better way to distill down the potential offensive performance would be by looking at Defensive Havoc for the two teams, as this should help adjust for some of the schedule differences.
Cincy and Notre Dame are ranked 33rd and 41st, respectively, in Havoc. These defenses are nothing to thumb your nose at, but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume both teams could have scored 30 points in the fourth quarter.
The Bearcats have shown a proclivity to find the end zone, and Notre Dame has responded to every test it has faced this season. I think this game will turn into a shootout and the right way to bet this game is an over on the total.
I am projecting the total for this game at 58.31 points based on my model.
Pick: Over 50.5 (Play to 52.5) · Recommended Risk: 2 units.
First Half Under 24.5
It’s pretty crazy that a Group of Five team is a road favorite in South Bend against an undefeated, top-10 Notre Dame team.
That goes to show the amount of respect this Cincinnati team has earned over the last couple of years. The Bearcats have the second-longest streak ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll behind only Alabama.
I expect the respect between these two teams to show up early, as both teams try to feel each other out and keep things conservative early on, given the magnitude of this game.
With a banged-up Jack Coan or a backup quarterback starting for the Irish, Notre Dame desperately needs to find a way to get Kyren Williams going on the ground. The Irish are averaging just 2.3 yards per carry on the ground. Notre Dame ranks 128th in Line Yards and needs to figure out a way to run the football more effectively.
For Cincinnati, it has run the ball really well behind Alabama transfer Jerome Ford and ranks 18th in Rushing Success Rate. But Notre Dame’s defense is 14th against the run, and you know defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman will have a game plan schemed to limit Desmond Ridder.
Notre Dame is averaging just 12.7 points in the first half of games this year, and its games have averaged 21.7 points in the first half on the season.
Expect a slow start to this one as two top defenses control the game early.