Vanderbilt puts up few points against similar opponents as No. 8 Notre Dame historically. We predict a low-scoring affair with the Irish picking apart the Commodore defense at will.
Vanderbilt vs. No. 8 Notre Dame (-14)
Opening Line: Fighting Irish -14.5
Opening Total: 52.5
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Site: Notre Dame Stadium
The action is split 51-49 against the spread in favor of Vanderbilt, a opening +15.5 opening line dipping to two touchdowns as of publication (September 12). Early money pushed the total down to 50 from a 52.5 opener, since rebounding to a steady 52 points over the last 24 hours.
The No. 8 Notre Dame clash is a rare occasion for Vanderbilt, playing just its eighth non-SEC game against a top-10 opponent in program history. The Commodores have come up short in every one. The last matchup, in fact, occurred in Nashville in 1996 against the then-No. 6 Fighting Irish, a close 14-7 leather-helmet affair.
Do not handicap this game believing it’s a step down from SEC ranked competition. “Anytime you play a top-10 team, they’re going to be like what you see in the SEC,” Vandy head coach Derek Mason remarked of the upcoming meeting. “From the caliber of skill players to what you see up front – it’s a physical unit on both sides of the ball – they want to own the line of scrimmage.”
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 11, 2018
Mason should know. He’s squared off against 16 ranked opponents since taking over the Commodores in 2014. The results are not pretty, particularly on offense. Vanderbilt posts 14.0 points per game in this situation. In eight road contests, this figure dips to 11.8 overall. The Commodores have topped 17 points one time in the latter spot, a 38-24 loss against an overvalued Florida team last season in Week 5. Notre Dame returns nine starters to a defense that allowed 21.5 points per game in 2017.
So how has Notre Dame performed in this situation against similar? Under head coach Brian Kelly, the Fighting Irish are 10-1 SU and 4-7 ATS when ranked hosting unranked opponents from a Power 5 conference. The average score is 33.4 to 18.9, Notre Dame surpassing its projected team total by a 4.6 average in six of the last seven.
The margins are tight, but lean the Irish -14 and UNDER 53 for your picks. It’s difficult to see Vanderbilt generating enough offense to stay competitive in this one, which will keep scoring low. The young defense may get thumped in its first test this season against a non-Group of 5 opponent.