Now that we know that Jacob Eason will not be suiting up for Georgia when the Bulldogs make their first ever trip to Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, we also know the opening line. The Irish have opened as a 6.5 point favorite over #15 Georgia.
As of right now, Notre Dame remains unranked mainly because the new polls have yet to be released since there is still one more opening weekend contest tonight – Tennessee at Georgia Tech. That will likely change tomorrow after Notre Dame’s 49-16 opening weekend victory. The Irish, however, also likely won’t jump Georgia in the polls so the Irish have opened as a near touchdown favorite over a higher ranked team.
Some of the optimism in the opening line for Notre Dame could be attributed to the loss of Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason who sprained his knee against Appalachian State. Freshman Jake Fromm filled in for Eason last weekend and the general feeling on Georgia websites is that the Bulldogs won’t skip a beat and might even be in better shape with the highly touted Fromm.
Notre Dame is coming off of one of their more dominant performances in a few years but even still the touchdown spread seems just a bit optimistic to me. This is still a team coming off a 4-8 campaign with some serious questions on both the interior defensive line and at safety. Georgia isn’t exactly a juggernaut coming off a 8-5 campaign and entering the second year of Kirby Smart, but at best I figured Notre Dame might be a 3 point favorite as the home team and wouldn’t have been surprised if Georgia opened up as the favorite.
This is a line that will very likely move a lot. Despite Notre Dame’s impressive showing against Temple, there are a lot of doubters remaining – and rightfully so. It would be shocking if a lot of the early money did not come in on Georgia even with Fromm taking over for Eason. If that happens, this line will probably end up closer to the three if not higher.
When I predicted every game of the season a couple weeks ago, I penciled this game in as a loss for the Irish because I didn’t think the Irish defense would be quite ready to handle the Georgia run game by week two. I am still feeling that way even though the Irish did look much better than I thought they would (and I predicted 10-2 this season). Seeing Notre Dame open as a near touchdown favorite though does have me just a bit more optimistic. We’ll see just how optimistic I am by Friday when I do my weekly preview.
I was surprised last week when Notre Dame was a 18.5 point favorite over Temple though and thought the Irish would have a hard time covering that one and they nearly doubled it. Vegas obviously isn’t as pessimistic towards the Irish.
Before we all get too excited, Notre Dame hasn’t been good against the spread lately. Last year the Irish were an identical 4-8 ATS as they were with their actual record. In 2015, the Irish were 10-3 overall but just 8-5 against the spread. In 2014, the Irish were 8-5 overall, but 6-7 ATS.