The No. 14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-1) travel to Blacksburg to play the Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) Saturday. Notre Dame lost to No. 5 Cincinnati last week 24-13 as 2.50-point home underdogs after pummeling Big Ten foes in back-to-back games. The Fighting Irish trampled both Purdue and Wisconsin by double digits but are just 2-3 against the spread (ATS) this year. Virginia Tech had a bye in Week 5 following two disappointing outings. First, the Hokies lost 27-21 at West Virginia in the Black Diamond Trophy game. Then Virginia Tech only beat Richmond 21-10 on Sept. 25 as 29-point home favorites.
- Opening Line: Virginia Tech -1
- Current Line: Virginia Tech +1
- Over/Under: 46.5
- Location: Lane Stadium
- Start Time: Saturday, October 9, 2021, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Last Meeting: Notre Dame defeated Virginia Tech 21-20 as 17.5-point home favorites on November 2, 2019.
Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente took control of the program in 2016. The Hokies are 8-10 ATS vs. ranked teams, 11-13 ATS vs. non-conference opponents, and 7-11 ATS with a rest advantage during Fuente’s tenure. Over that span, Notre Dame is 11-8 ATS with a rest disadvantage and 11-10-1 ATS in road games. Notre Dame is 2-1 overall vs. Virginia Tech since 2016 but is just 1-2 ATS in those meetings.
The betting market slightly favors Notre Dame: 55% of the cash and 62% of the bets placed is on the Fighting Irish at the time of publishing (according to Pregame.com). However, the line is moving away from Notre Dame as this game has passed through zero, and Virginia Tech is currently a slight favorite. For the total, roughly 70% of the tickets are on the Under, but the total has been increased from 44.5 up two points despite the pro-Under action.
When you dig into the advanced stats you’ll notice Virginia Tech’s 3.9 yards per rush allowed is a bit misleading. For instance, Virginia Tech’s defense ranks 117th in rushing predictive points added (PPA), 100th in line yards, 116th in open field yards, and 107th in power success rate (all stats in non-garbage time). Virginia Tech’s poor advanced defensive metrics give me hope Notre Dame will get its ground game going.
On the one hand, Notre Dame’s rushing attack has been awful. The Fighting Irish rank 125th in both yards per rush (2.4) and non-garbage time rushing PPA. But, on the other hand, Notre Dame’s last four opponents rank 23rd or better in defensive rushing PPA. Furthermore, Notre Dame’s struggles on the ground fall in line with its strength of schedule, which is the eighth-toughest.
However, Virginia Tech has played the 48th-toughest strength of schedule and has a negative PPA differential. Also, the Fighting Irish is known for producing professional offensive linemen and has two 4-star recruits at running back. For the first time this season, Notre Dame has a significant edge in the trenches. Additionally, the Fighting Irish’s defense ranks 21st in line yards, fourth in power success rate, and 18th in rushing success rate (all stats in non-garbage time).
The crux of my case for Notre Dame is it’s a buy-low spot for the Fighting Irish who just lost against a quality Cincinnati team. Plus the market has too much love for a Virginia Tech team that’s played bad its last two games. On top of that, the Hokies have a losing ATS record in this spot (vs. ranked teams, vs. non-conference foes, and with a rest advantage) since Fuente took over.
Pick: Notre Dame moneyline (-108 on FanDuel)
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