Cal vs. Notre Dame Betting Odds & Picks: Marcus Freeman’s Irish to Pick Up Victory?
Via Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)
Cal vs. Notre Dame Odds
Notre Dame faces multiple Pac-12 schools in the state of California on a regular basis each year. The Irish and the Golden Bears, however, do not see each other very often on the gridiron.
These two programs have not faced off since 1967, and the schools have only squared off four times ever. Notre Dame won all four of those meetings, but Cal has reason to believe it can earn its first victory against the Irish on Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Bears have looked pretty steady to start the season, earning victories over UC Davis and UNLV.
Meanwhile it has been quite the interesting start to the year for Notre Dame. The Irish played Ohio State tough in Columbus before following that up with a shocking loss last week at home to Marshall.
Can Notre Dame get things back on track, or will Cal have a real chance to hand the Irish a third straight loss to begin the year? Let's get into it.
Throughout Justin Wilcox's tenure in Berkeley, the strength of his teams have come on the defensive side of the ball. This year does not appear to be any different, as the Golden Bears' defense has held both opponents to 14 points or fewer to begin the year.
If Cal wants to contend in the Pac-12 and have a successful season, the offense needs to be more productive than it has been.
Purdue transfer Jack Plummer won the starting quarterback job in the offseason, and he has looked pretty solid thus far. Things will get more difficult for the senior this week, as his team hits the road for the first time to take on an elite Notre Dame defense.
It's hard to fully know where this offense is, given the inferior competition it has faced in the first two weeks.
Notre Dame is stout up front on the interior, so this will be a huge test for the offensive line to get a push and help the running game.
On the other side of the ball, the Cal defense will have an opportunity to get after Drew Pyne, who will make his first career start on Saturday. The Golden Bears have done a really nice job defending the pass in their early tests, but it will likely come down to if they can stop the Irish rushing attack on Saturday.
This is not the start to the season that anyone expected in South Bend. Notre Dame held the lead late in the third quarter of the opener at Ohio State, but man, have things turned south quickly from there.
Inexperience at quarterback has been the biggest reason for the Irish's offensive struggles, and Tyler Buchner was lost for the season after suffering a shoulder injury late in the fourth quarter against Marshall.
Tommy Rees and the Irish offense will now turn it over to the aforementioned Pyne. The junior is a bit limited physically, but does have some experience to draw on from last season. Pyne appeared in multiple games a year ago, including in crunch time against both Wisconsin and Cincinnati.
Pyne will need to lean on Chris Tyree and the rest of the Notre Dame running backs, and when he does drop back, All-American tight end Michael Mayer will be his first target.
As poor as the offense has been, Notre Dame's defense has performed just fine to start the year. If the Irish can get the Bears into third-and-long situations and get off the field early, they can set Pyne and the offense up with more comfortable field positioning.
Cal vs. Notre Dame Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Cal and Notre Dame match up statistically:
Cal Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Notre Dame Offense vs. Cal Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||57||20|
|Seconds per Play||28.1 (98)||27.4 (92)|
|Rush Rate||47.1% (91)||54.5% (57)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Cal vs. Notre Dame Betting Pick
Ultimately I think you'll see a great deal of urgency from Notre Dame from the moment this game gets underway on Saturday afternoon.
Marcus Freeman knows he needs to get the monkey off his back and earn his first victory as head coach at Notre Dame. The players certainly understand that as well, and I believe you'll see a spirited effort to get a win for their coach.
I don't really downgrade the Irish offense much without Buchner under center, and Pyne is actually the more experienced player at this point.
Expect the Cal offense to struggle as it steps up a weight class and takes on what has been a pretty stout Irish defense. Points shouldn't come too frequently in this matchup, but the Irish should score enough to pull away in this one.
Give me Notre Dame to earn its first victory of the season while covering the number in the process.