Notre Dame-Northwestern Betting Guide: Line Moving in Irish’s Favor

Notre Dame-Northwestern Betting Guide: Line Moving in Irish’s Favor article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jerry Tillery and Clayton Thorson

Notre Dame-Northwestern Betting Odds

  • Spread: Notre Dame -10.5
  • Over/Under: 53
  • Time: 7:15 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

Before the season, Notre Dame’s trip to Northwestern didn’t seem like one of its toughest tests on a schedule filled with land mines.

But now, thanks to Northwestern’s two big outright upsets and the Irish’s opponents falling short of expectations, it sure seems that way. Notre Dame is No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings and just needs to keep winning to reach the national semifinals.

Can Northwestern derail those hopes, or will the Irish roll in what could basically be a home game in Evanston?


>> All odds as of 10 a.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.


Market Moves for Notre Dame-Northwestern

By Danny Donahue

After opening at -7, Notre Dame is now a 10.5-point favorite around most of the market. The Irish are only receiving a small majority of the betting activity in this game, however, accounting for 54% of bets and 59% of dollars wagered.

The total hasn’t had nearly the same kind of movement. In fact, it’s remained at its opening Pinnacle number all week despite 77% of bets and 60% of dollar on the over.

Metrics That Matter for Notre Dame-Northwestern

By Stuckey

1. Neither team will hurt itself, as the Irish and Wildcats are two of the most disciplined teams in the country.

2. Northwestern can not run the ball. The Wildcats average a paltry 2.58 yards per carry, which ranks 128th in the country. That doesn’t set up well against a strong Notre Dame pass defense that only allows 5.5 yards per pass attempt (sixth-best in FBS).

3. Northwestern has a horrid special teams unit, ranking 122 of 130 FBS teams in special teams S&P+. The Wildcats have made just six of their 10 field goals and rank in the bottom third of FBS in all return efficiency metrics.

Seriously, Northwestern Can’t Run

By Steve Petrella

Stuckey wasn’t kidding. The Wildcats can’t (or don’t) run the ball.

They call more passing plays than all but five teams, including Washington State and Hawaii. That’s not how you typically think of Northwestern.

This reflects in their total possessions, too, because the clock is always stopped. Northwestern averages 14.88 drives per game, 10th nationally. Its 80 plays per game ranks eighth. More drives equal more points, and both teams rank top 30 in plays per minute.

I’m not betting this over because I have my doubts about how effective Northwestern will actually throw the ball against this stout Irish secondary. I may be looking to hit the second-half over, though, given how many possessions there could be in this game.

Is Either Team Overvalued?

By Ken Barkley

This is a weird game to have such major implications, as I’m pretty sure none of us deep down think Northwestern is anything special. It’s also entirely possible that Notre Dame’s once-daunting schedule is much less so, and we won’t learn as much about them as we’d hoped.

The obvious unit mismatch is Northwestern’s offense (105th in S&P+) vs. Notre Dame’s defense (sixth). Northwestern may run the ball for less than two yard per carry in this game, and Clayton Thorson may throw it 50 times. It seems like the most likely result.

Notre Dame has a huge advantage on special teams, which combined with home-field advantage, help define this number in the market.

But on a bigger picture level, the question I would be asking is, whose opinion in the market (if any) is likely to be inflated/deflated coming into this game? Certainly not the Irish, who pushed the -22 closing number at Pinnacle last week, and struggled to beat Pitt in their game prior.

Northwestern, meanwhile, has been incredible in these big underdog spots under Pat Fitzgerald, and that’s been true this season as well, with an outright win against Michigan State and a near win against Michigan. The Cats won outright as a dog against Wisconsin at home last week and covered the Pinnacle closing spread by 18.5 points.

If anything, it’s the Wildcats who are likely to be overvalued in this spot. Bettors have had so much success with Fitzgerald as an underdog, it’s an easy bet to talk yourself into again.

But frankly, this isn’t that great of a home-field advantage in a primetime night game compared to so many other Power 5 teams. Considering Notre Dame went into Lane Stadium at night and dominated Virginia Tech, this should be no problem for them whatsoever.

I like Notre Dame at this number, as my raw numbers have it at 10 and I think if anything Northwestern is overvalued.

Barkley’s Pick: Notre Dame -10 or better

Notre Dame-Northwestern Trends to Know

By John Ewing

Notre Dame has struggled to cover big spreads. Since 2005, when the Irish are favored by seven or more points, they are just 33-46-2 (42%) against the spread.

Northwestern has won four consecutive games. Since 2005, teams playing at home on a win streak of two or more games have gone 102-75-5 (58%) ATS when getting seven or more points.

By Evan Abrams

—For the first time since the 2013 national title game against Alabama, Notre Dame enters a game in November or later undefeated.

Overall, Notre Dame has entered November unbeaten 10 total times since 1960, with the Fighting Irish finishing the year unscathed in 1973 and in 1988 (finished 9-0-1 in 1966).

In the other seven seasons, Notre Dame’s first loss has come either at a neutral site (title game vs. Alabama) or on the road five times (three times to USC).

—Since 2005, 13 teams have traveled to Northwestern to face the Wildcats while undefeated, those teams are 11-2 SU and ATS, covering the spread by 10.8 PPG.

In that span, only Knoxville, Tennessee has been a more profitable location for undefeated teams (15-5 ATS, +9.4 units) than Evanston. Undefeated teams have covered 11 consecutive games at Northwestern in this spot dating back to 2006.

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