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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Virginia Cavaliers Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by November 11, 2021
Kyren WIlliams

The No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-1) rolls into Scott Stadium Saturday to play the Virginia Cavaliers (6-3, 4-2 in ACC) at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game airs on ABC.

Notre Dame has won and covered four straight since losing to the No. 2 Cincinnati Bearcats, with the latest being a 34-6 beatdown of the Navy Shipmen, covering as 21-point favorites. Over those four games, Notre Dame has gained at least 150 rushing yards with 11 rushing TDs. According to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin, the Fighting Irish are 6-3 against the spread (ATS) and 5-4 Over/Under with the 27th-toughest schedule.

Virginia has an explosive aerial attack led by QB Brennan Armstrong, who’s thrown the most passing yards in the ACC with the second-most passing TDs (27). However, the Cavaliers had their four-game winning streak snapped in Week 9 after getting crushed at the No. 14 BYU Cougars, 66-49. Virginia is 6-3 ATS and 3-6 O/U with the 52nd-toughest schedule (Sagarin).

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Details

  • Opening Line: Notre Dame -6
  • Current Line: Notre Dame -5.5
  • Total (Over/Under): 64

Action Report

According to Pregame.com, nearly two-thirds of the cash and more than 75% of the bets are on Notre Dame. But, market-making sportsbook Circa Sports in Las Vegas opened the Fighting Irish as 6-point favorites. So, we see “reverse line movement” (RLM) in Virginia’s direction.

As for the total, both sides of the market are backing the Over. The total has been steamed up from the 63.5-point opener to the current price.

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Trends

Virginia hired head coach Bronco Mendenhall in 2016. Since then, the Cavaliers are 9-3 ATS vs. ranked competition, 7-3 ATS following a bye week, and 7-5 ATS as a home underdog. Over that span, Notre Dame is 10-8-1 ATS as a road favorite and 14-8 ATS when playing with a rest disadvantage. The Fighting Irish beat and covered against the Cavaliers in their last meeting (2019). Notre Dame covered as 10.5-point favorites, and the Over cashed on the 46.5-point total.

Handicap

If the RLM towards Virginia means this is a trap game for Notre Dame, then I’m in serious trouble. Unfortunately, I cannot reverse engineer the RLM and explain why Notre Dame is getting cheaper. However, I can explain that Notre Dame’s defense does a good job defending what Virginia frequently does, and the Cavaliers have one of the worst defenses in the nation.

For instance, Virginia has the fifth-highest pass rate in the country, and the Fighting Irish’s pass defense is nasty. Notre Dame’s defense has the 24th-ranked passing predicted points added (PPA), 24th-ranked passing explosive rate, and 24th-best passer efficiency rating. But, on the other hand, the Cavaliers play matador-defense.

Virginia’s defense ranks 109th or worse in PPA, success rate, line yards per snap, open field yards, and Havoc rate. While Notre Dame’s offense has gotten it going after a shaky start. The Fighting Irish have scored at least 34 points in five of their last six games, including four straight. And Notre Dame’s full offensive playbook is available because Virginia’s defense isn’t good at stopping anything.

The bottom line is Notre Dame is too well-coached and balanced on both sides of the ball to lose to a one-dimensional Virginia squad. The only pro-Cavaliers argument for them covering is their aerial attack is explosive enough to sneak in the backdoor. Perhaps that happens, but I’ll take my chance with yet another underrated Notre Dame team.

PICK: Notre Dame -5 

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