Senior quarterback Ian Book leads Notre Dame. Photo from @NDFootball (Twitter)
- No. 10 Notre Dame plays its first-ever conference game Saturday Sept. 12 when it hosts ACC foe Duke
- Behind quarterback Ian Book, the Fighting Irish rolled to a 38-7 victory over Duke last season
- Find the odds, breakdown and a pick for the game in the article below
For the first time in its 134-year history, Notre Dame’s football team will play a conference game Saturday (Sept. 12) when its hosts ACC rival Duke in the season opener for both teams at 2:30 ET in South Bend on NBC.
Notre Dame is spending this season as a member of the ACC rather than an independent because of scheduling problems caused the COVID-19 pandemic. The school is a member of the ACC in all sports other than hockey and football.
The Fighting Irish are ranked 10th and coming off a 11-2 season that concluded with a convincing 33-9 victory over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl. Meanwhile, Duke went 5-7 in 2019.
In the latest Notre Dame vs Duke odds, Brian Kelly’s team is expected to roll in their home opener.
Duke Blue Devils vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish Odds
|Team||Moneyline||Spread||Over/Under Total at FanDuel|
|Duke||+820||+20.5 (-110)||Over 53.5 (-110)|
|#10 Notre Dame||-1600||-20.5 (-110)||Under 53.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Sept. 11th
Home Field Advantage?
It will be interesting to see how much of an advantage the Fighting Irish have playing at Notre Dame Stadium. Because of coronavirus concerns, approximately one quarter of the seats can be filled at the fabled facility, which holds 77,622.
Notre Dame has won 16 straight home games. That is the fourth-longest streak in the FBS behind Clemson (23), Ohio State (21) and UCF (20).
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 3, 2020
Duke, though, did not get rattled by Touchdown Jesus and the rest of the South Bend mystique in its last visit. The Blue Devils notched a 38-35 stunner as a 20.5-point underdog in 2016, a season in which Notre Dame stumbled to a 4-8 finished.
New Help for Book
Notre Dame has senior quarterback Ian Book back for his third full season as the starter.
In 2019, he completed 60.2 percent of his passing attempts for 3,034 yards and 34 touchdowns. He was intercepted just six times and rushed for 546 yards and four scores on 112 carries.
Book also threw for 181 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a career-high 139 in a 38-7 rout of Duke last season as a seven-point road favorite.
All five starting interior linemen also return, but there are questions about the other skill positions following the losses of wide receiver Chase Claypool and tight end Coke Kmet to the NFL.
Ben Skowronek, a graduate transfer from Northwestern, will be counted on immediately at receiver. Coach Kelly is going young in the backfield with sophomore Kyren Williams and freshman Chris Tyree topping the depth chart.
Though 13th year coach David Cutcliffe is considered a top offensive mind, defense figures to be Duke’s strength, at least early in the season.
The Blue Devils’ 4-2-5 scheme features its share of playmakers, including ends Victor Dimukje and Chris Rumph II and cornerback Mark Gilbert.
Gilbert was a first-team all-ACC pick in 2017. However, he sustained a hip injury in the second game of 2018, keeping him out of action for the rest of that year as well as all last season.
Gilbert likely would have been gone by the second day of this year’s NFL Draft.
Duke’s has a new quarterback in Chase Brice. He is a graduate transfer from Clemson and backed up Trevor Lawrence the last two seasons.
While Brice played in 23 games in two seasons with Clemson, he attempted just 136 passes.
However, he did engineer a fourth-quarter comeback at home against Syracuse in 2018 while subbing for an injured Lawrence. The Tigers won the national championship that season.
It should help Brice in this one that four members of Notre Dame’s secondary from last season are now on NFL rosters.
Sizing It Up
Notre Dame holds a 4-2 edge in the series and is clearly the more talented team in this matchup.
However, Duke’s defense is good enough to at least slow down the Fighting Irish. Furthermore, Brice is experienced enough not to cave to the pressure of playing at South Bend.
Thus, the Blue Devils should make this one mildly competitive and sneak under the number.
The Pick: Duke +20.5 (-110)
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.