No.8 Notre Dame was considered to be a national championship contender in the preseason, but it’s all of a sudden become a lot more difficult for the Fighting Irish to play like one of college football’s best teams. After suffering key injuries in their first two games, Notre Dame is a home underdog in Saturday’s contest with No.14 Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are giving the Fighting Irish 2.5 points, according to vegasinsider.com. Las Vegas casinos have set the over/under at 55 points.
A blow out win over Texas kicked off Notre Dame’s season, and the team barely escaped a loss in Virginia last week. Georgia Tech hasn’t faced much competition yet, scoring at least 65 points in victories over Alcorn State and Tulane.
Replacing Top Players
Notre Dame remained undefeated in their second game of the season, but for the second consecutive week, it came at a price. Starting quarterback Malik Zaire fractured his ankle, and won’t play for the rest of the season. In the opener, running back Tarean Folston suffered a torn ACL, which will end his 2015 campaign, as well.
The Fighting Irish had big hopes for Zaire, who replaced Everett Golson at the end of last season. He was nearly perfect in his one full game this year, completing 19 of 22 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-3 victory over Texas. Folston was the team’s leading rusher from a year ago, and he ran the ball three times for 19 yards before he got hurt.
Notre Dame should still have a strong running game this season, despite the loss of Folston. C.J. Prosise totaled 98 rushing yards in the opener, and he ran for 155 yards in last week’s win over Virginia. Backup quarterback DeShone Kizer has big shoes to fill, though he came up big when he replaced Zaire. Kizer helped Notre Dame avoid an early-season upset, completing eight of 12 passes for 92 yards, including a game-winning touchdown pass with 12 seconds remaining.
With expectations of contending for the College Football Playoff, the Fighting Irish were heavy favorites in their first two games. Now that Zaire won’t take the field, Notre Dame finds themselves as unlikely underdogs. They average being a home underdog once per season, but that will likely be the case multiple times in 2015.
Notre Dame has been a home underdog 26 times in the last 25 seasons. 16-10 Against The Spread. +2.5 hosting Georgia Tech.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) September 16, 2015
Notre Dame is 1-1 against the spread this season, failing to cover the spread when they barely got by Virginia. The Fighting Irish beat Stanford last season in their one home game as an underdog. Georgia Tech has yet to lose against the spread, winning both of their games by a combined 108 points.
The loss of Zaire doesn’t mean all hope is lost for Notre Dame, but it will certainly be more difficult for them to win the hardest games on their schedule. Georgia Tech is looking like they could make a run to the College Football Playoff, and it might be too much to ask for Kizer to defeat a top-15 team in his first ever start.
Georgia Tech over Notre Dame, 37-30