By The Prophet
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Virginia Cavaliers
You could say this season has been a “prove it” year for Bronco Mendenhall & his Virginia Cavalier football team. After a 5-5 season in 2019, there were whispers amongst the Virginia faithful of a potential hot seat situation for coach Mendenhall. To this point he has responded fairly well, the Cavs are (6-3) going into Saturday’s clash with Notre Dame.
The Irish have been very good once again this season, accumulating 8 wins and only 1 loss thus far. However, there have been some vulnerabilities within the Notre Dame ranks this season, most recently in the secondary which has been without their best player and starting safety Kyle Hamilton for the last two games.
They will once again be without the projected top 10 pick in this weekend’s game against the most potent passing attack in the country, the Virginia Cavs. In week 9 Notre Dame allowed 350 yards passing on only 30 attempts and 14.2 yards per completion to Sam Howell and the North Carolina Tarheels. That game would’ve seemed to be the Irish’s first big test against a great offense, and it wouldn’t be categorized as a success in hindsight.
I’m locking in Virginia’s team total over 30 points as my Banker for this weekend. Brennan Armstrong, the Cavs quarterback is having a record-breaking season through the air and leads the country in passing yards per game (401.2) and is tied for 2nd in touchdown passes (27).
Notre Dame’s defense will be asked to defend the nation’s best passing offense without their best defensive player and as a unit ranks only 62nd in the country against the pass; yet that same unit has only faced one top 25 passing attack and only two of their opponents rank in the top 50 of passing offense (#9 Purdue, #29 North Carolina).
Lastly, I am not a heavy trends-based handicapper, but the points total trends for Virginia given their team total Saturday are alarming. Virginia has scored 43, 42, 17, 30, 34, 48, 48, and 49 points this season. I don’t see that type of output stopping this weekend, so with that lock in the following for this weekend’s Banker:
BANKER: Virginia Team Total Over 30 at -110 (1.91)
I’m going to change it up a bit this week and pick a dog and slight favorite to get us around the +300 odds mark. Firstly, I’m rolling with Nevada ML at (+125). Nevada coming in as a 3-point dog on the road to San Diego State is interesting to me, because it means this game would probably be a tossup or a “pick ‘em” if the game were being played at Nevada.
San Diego State plays pretty much plays the same style of football whether they’re on the road or at home, so I like getting the plus money on Nevada, who I also happen to think is the better side and has many advantages in this matchup. San Diego State’s approach is to try to run the ball and control the clock & play stifling defense and win low scoring games, similar to how the military academies generally approach the game of football in the NCAA.
It’s a very old school approach and certainly has its flaws because it’s a system that is unwilling to adapt to its opponents. San Diego State is 127th out of 130 schools in passing offense, and 44th in rushing offense. Their defense ranks 10th in the country in points allowed per game (16.67). However, they’ve yet to face a team as balanced as Nevada.
Nevada ranks in the top 50 in almost every defensive category and should not have trouble packing the box and slowing down the San Diego one dimensional offense. Nevada also has the best passing attack the Aztecs will have faced this year by a WIDE margin. Nevada ranks 3rd in the NCAA in passing offense and will be San Diego State’s first big challenge against a truly great passing attack. Look for Nevada to play smarter and adjust down the stretch and find a way to win as a road dog here. First leg is Nevada ML (+125)
For the second piece of this week’s two team parlay I’m rolling with UTEP ML (-115) who will be on the road at Apogee Stadium, taking on the North Texas Mean Green. I believe there is fantastic value on the Miners of UTEP in this game, I’ll explain why. The market has had a bit of a slow reaction to adjust to a revitalized and much improved UTEP football team this season.
That is understandable, UTEP used to be hard pressed to win even one game versus an FBS opponent and were one of if not the worst team in college football for going on ten years, at least. But this year has been a different story. The Miners are (6-3) and are making a serious push in conference USA and are already bowl eligible.
Their only losses coming on the road to Boise State, Florida Atlantic and vs undefeated conference foe UTSA. They were competitive in each game and now rank in the top 10 in defense this season. North Texas meanwhile in their 5th season under head coach Seth Litrell look like they are running out of gas and mojo.
They’re 3-6 with their only wins coming against an FCS opponent, Rice and a dreadful Southern Miss team. This line has not adjusted for the current quality of the UTEP football team, and I do believe it’s a steal! Lock in UTEP for the second leg of the parlay and let’s roll!
Parlay: Nevada ML + UTEP ML at +315 (4.15)