Notre Dame vs. Duke Expert Pick and Prediction – September 30, 2023
NOTRE DAME VS. DUKE EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – September 30, 2023 — When Notre Dame joined the ACC on a partial basis, these games with Duke were supposed to be throwaways. The Irish agreed to play five ACC opponents per year to get access to the ACC in all other sports, but these games with the lower half of the conference were expected to be little more than guarantee games.
Guess again. Duke has made itself into a genuine contender in the ACC in Mike Elko’s second season, and the Blue Devils have made statement after statement since upending Clemson to start the season. Suddenly, this matchup is between two top-20 teams, and Duke’s got a chance to make its biggest statement yet.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s looking to make amends. The Fighting Irish had Ohio State beaten last week, but they forgot to count to 11 and allowed the Buckeyes to bowl through for the winning touchdown in the spot where the 11th defender would have stood. More concerning is the fact that Notre Dame shied away from giving the ball to Audric Estime when it was the tougher team.
Estime’s been Notre Dame’s workhorse back, but when it came down to it, the Fighting Irish didn’t use him when it mattered most. If Marcus Freeman hasn’t learned his lesson, Notre Dame could find itself a victim of a trap game.
(4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS)
(4-0 SU, 3-1-0 ATS)
When: Saturday, September 30th at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C.
Public Bets: 63% on Notre Dame
Public Money: 52% on Notre Dame
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of September 28th, 2023.
Notre Dame vs. Duke In-Season Trends
Duke comes into this game riding a six-game win streak and an eight-game cover streak. The Blue Devils have been pretty close to automatic money since October of last year, covering 11 of their past 13 contests. However, Duke is not great at getting started quickly; the Blue Devils have only led at the end of a quarter four times in their past 11 games.
Duke has also covered two of three meetings with the Irish since they began their ACC agreement, including winning the game outright in 2016. Notre Dame has mostly been winning with defense this year, but the Fighting Irish have done enough on offense to still put their games over the top for the totals. For the year, the Irish are 3-2 to the over, and one of their misses only came because they held Navy to a mere three points.
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With temperatures in the mid to high 70s, weather shouldn’t play any kind of factor in this game. Both teams should be able to run their offense unimpeded.
Will Notre Dame try to blunt its way through the Duke defense with Estime, or will the Irish try to finesse things off Sam Hartman’s arm? Hartman is no stranger to facing Duke, having gone for six touchdowns and one interception in two appearances when playing at Wake Forest. But the Blue Devils’ run defense isn’t quite up to the level of the pass defense, which suggests this is Estime’s game to dominate.
Jordan Waters isn’t as dominant of a runner for Duke as Estime is for Notre Dame, but with Riley Leonard able to make plays with his feet, he doesn’t need to be as dominant. Leonard has mostly focused on shorter, safer completions, managing just two passing touchdowns on the season. By contrast, Duke has 15 touchdowns on the ground.
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If Notre Dame has learned from last week and runs the football effectively, it should have enough to outlast Duke. However, it seems like this Irish team tries to get a little too cute too often, and that doesn’t work against this Blue Devils squad.
The Irish should be able to get the win, but Duke should keep its streak of covering the spread alive.