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College Football: Week 0 Best Bets - Notre Dame vs Navy

Stanford v Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 25: of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish of the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on September 25, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 37-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Jonathan Daniel

After what felt like an eternity, I proudly say college football season is officially back. For many football lovers, it seemed we would never get to the start of the season. Now that we are here, I am scouring the board to find any possible value. I’m not alone in my efforts; our college football betting team is hard at work doing the same. Join us on the NBC Sports YouTube page this Saturday at 11 a.m. EST for our live College Football Betting Q&A.

In Week 0, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish kick off their season in Dublin, Ireland, against the Navy Midshipmen. The Irish are a 20.5 favorite on BetMGM, and the total is set at 49. The game is at 2:30 p.m. EST and can be viewed on NBC.

Notre Dame vs. Navy (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. EST on NBC)

This week, I am backing Notre Dame -20.5 (-110). While breaking down this game, I initially thought that 20.5 points were a lot, but there’s no way I’d back Navy to keep it within three touchdowns.

There’s a lot to unpack with this Navy team. After finishing the season 4-8 last year, the Midshipmen appointed former defensive coordinator Brian Newberry as their new head coach. They also brought in Grant Chesnut from Kennesaw State to take over as the offensive coordinator. Chesnut’s job this season is to revamp the offense. Unlike Georgia Tech a few years back, they aren’t scrapping the option attack entirely, yet adding more passing to the philosophy.

The scheme wasn’t entirely the issue with Navy last season. They finished the year third in offensive success rate, but know that can be deceiving. Of the service academies, they were last in rush yards per game and were dreadful anytime they needed to pass the football.

Navy’s biggest issue on offense was the lack of physicality on the offensive line. Their offensive line could be in trouble this week against the stout defensive front of Notre Dame. Not only is Notre Dame’s defensive line more impressive, but they also return one of the nation’s best linebacking corps.

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Another advantage that has me licking my chops while handicapping this game is the new man under center for Notre Dame, Sam Hartman. Under former offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, Notre Dame did all right; they played to the best of their abilities. Rees was often criticized for the lack of vertical passing and plays along the perimeter. However, that wasn’t necessarily his fault. They lacked a quarterback who could stretch the field effectively and efficiently.

They bring in Hartman, one of the league leaders, in explosive passes last season. Hartman should feast against this Navy defense, who last season was 130th in EPA per pass on defense and 127th in defensive success rate against the pass.

The secondary for the Midshipmen is loaded with veteran players but should still struggle to stop Hartman, especially with promising playmakers Tobias Merriweather and Jayden Thomas.

Last season, the box score didn’t tell the story of Notre Dame’s early domination. Notre Dame was up 35-13, but after a 19-0 second half from Navy, Notre Dame only won by three points.

Don’t let last season’s results fool you. Outside of that game, the previous three games were decided by 22 points or more. If history tells us anything, Notre Dame should get up early and cruise.

Bet: Notre Dame -20.5 (-110)