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Navy vs Notre Dame CFP Preview: Midshipmen In Good Shape To Cover as 3-Score Underdog

The 2023 Season Kicks Off with Navy-Notre Dame in Dublin

The 2023 college football season will get underway in Dublin, Ireland, when Notre Dame squares off with Navy on Saturday. For the fourth time in the last six meetings, the college football predictions list the Fighting Irish as favorites by at least 20 points. Will Irish eyes be smiling by the game’s end?

Notre Dame has won the last five meetings, but Navy has covered against the college football spreads in three of those games. When the teams met in 2022, Notre Dame led 35-13 at halftime before Navy came storming back and outscored the Fighting Irish 19-0 in the second half. While Notre Dame won the game, Navy easily covered as a 17-point underdog.

Navy vs Notre Dame CFP Preview: Midshipmen In Good Shape To Cover as 3-Score Underdog
Xavier Arline #7 of the Navy Midshipmen drops back during the first quarter against the Army Black Knights/Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

Notre Dame’s Marcus Freeman, heading into his second season at the helm of the Fighting Irish, is the longest tenured coach in this matchup as this will be the first game as the Navy head coach for Brian Newberry as he replaces longtime coach Ken Niumatalolo.

Notre Dame was 4-2 outright when listed as a double-digit favorite by the college football picks a season ago. However, the Fighting Irish only covered in one of those contests.

Notre Dame is ranked 13th in both the Associated Press and coaches’ polls while Navy is unranked.

Notre Dame is currently listed by the Las Vegas odds as a 20½-point favorite.

  • When: Saturday, Aug. 26, 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
  • Line: Notre Dame -20½
  • Moneyline: Navy +850, Notre Dame -1500
  • Total: 50½
  • Television: NBC
  • 2022 Record: 4-8 (4-4 in the American Athletic Conference)
  • 2022 Record Against the Spread: 7-5
  • Head coach: Brian Newberry, first season
  • Head coaching record: 0-0

There was a time when Navy’s triple-option offense produced the most rushing yards in the country. However, the yardage has slipped from 360.5 yards per game in 2019 to 241.2 in 2022.

Blake Horvath and Tai Lavatai have been battling for the starting quarterback job. The offense will run through fullback Daba Fofana in more ways than one after he led the Midshipmen with 769 yards in 2022.

Eleven of the top 20 tacklers last season were sophomores, led by Colin Ramos and Rayuan Lane combining for 151 tackles. The hope is their continued growth will result in better defensive numbers in 2023.

Navy has covered against the college football betting lines in seven of its last 10 games in its last six games.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

  • 2022 Record: 9-4
  • 2022 Record Against the Spread: 7-6
  • Head coach: Marcus Freeman, second season
  • Head coaching record: 9-4

Notre Dame finished 32nd nationally in passing efficiency, 98th in passing yards per game, and 52nd in completion percentage a season ago.

The issues with the passing game could have been solved when former Wake Forest starter Sam Hartman transferred to Notre Dame.

He threw 110 touchdown passes and had 41 passes intercepted in his five seasons at Wake Forest.

The offensive line, led by tackle Joe Alt, could be one of the best in the country. Notre Dame averaged 15 points in the first three losses of the season as the Fighting Irish stumbled to a 3-3 start before the defense was exposed when they allowed 38 points to USC and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.

Eight of Notre Dame’s 13 games in 2022 finished over the college football odds total.

What to Expect

Navy’s run-first offense could limit the possessions for Notre Dame and that gives the Midshipmen a chance to cover as three-possession underdogs.

The Midshipmen have covered in six of the last nine meetings against Notre Dame.

Notre Dame covered in three of the eight games a season ago when listed as the favorite.

Navy finished 98th in passing defense last season and those struggles defending against the pass could be an issue when Hartman drops back. Notre Dame was 37th in rushing defense. The Fighting Irish are 5-5 when allowing at least 200 rushing yards per game.

Best Bet

Notre Dame will look to take control early because allowing Navy to run the option offense can change how this game proceeds. Building the early advantage might force Navy to turn to the passing game and that is certainly not a strength for the Midshipmen.

When they met last year, Notre Dame jumped all over Navy early on so with that in mind, going with the +750 odds to have the Fighting Irish leading by 10-12 points at halftime could be the best way to proceed.

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