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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Louisville Cardinals Point Spread - Pick

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Louisville Cardinals (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Monday, September 2, 2019 at 8PM EST
Where: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: ND -20.5/LOU +20.5
Over/Under Total: 55

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the Louisville Cardinals as both teams get their 2019 regular seasons underway. For Notre Dame, they are hoping for more of the same, after an unbeaten regular season saw them get to the 4-team College Football Playoff. A 30-3 loss to Clemson showed they might still be a ways off from joining the true elite, but getting to the CFP speaks volumes and Brian Kelly has seen a lot of success since becoming the Irish's head coach. The Cardinals, however, look to put 2018 in the books after suffering one of their worst seasons in decades, losing their last 9 games, seeing their coach canned before the end of the season, and finishing up at 2-10. Scott Satterfield is now the head coach and they look to turn things around in 2019.

Louisville had been putting together some good seasons as of late, only to see themselves fall off the proverbial cliff in 2018. Coach Satterfield has seen some success before at Appalachian State and will be looking for it to translate at a higher level. The Cardinals don't have anywhere to go but up after dropping their last nine. There was nothing to like about the Louisville offense last season. They couldn't get production from any area, with subpar play at all relevant positions. Now, it's one thing to hope for some added maturity, but the bulk of who is returning didn't exactly scintillate in 2018, so why have hope now? Jawan Pass needs to show better play, but with Dez Fitzpatrick his top target, only so much optimism is warranted. Since Lamar Jackson left, it's like he took all the firepower with him. The offensive line returns two starters from a unit that was putrid last season. The quarterback was constantly under siege, no holes were opened on a regular basis, and opposing defenses more or less had their way.

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The story didn't get much better on the other side of the ball for the Cardinals. Granted, they return a lot of their talent. Problem is there wasn't much of it. They ranked toward the bottom is a lot of categories. All their starters are upperclassmen and the middle looks pretty good with Dorian Etheridge and CJ Avery. It was hard to tell if their secondary was promising last season or if teams just ran more on the Cardinals after running up the score early. In any event, there is some hope for a moderate upgrade on this side of the ball. Again, it's hard to go anywhere but up. New coaching and added experience offer some positivity for the purposes of this game—until one fully ponders the gigantic talent deficit that will plague the Cardinals. A new coach and a home opener could give rise to some energy, but reality is reality and it will eventually settle in.

The Irish will have to fill some key positions with the departures of Myles Boykin, Alize Mack, and Dexter Williams. But mostly everyone else is back. That includes promising quarterback Ian Book, who was at times electric in averaging over 300 yards a game while throwing only 7 picks on the season. Nearly his entire line is back and that type of continuity could go a long way, especially with a team good enough to have made the CFP last season. Last season, only Clemson was able to deter this offense. With all the returners and added experience, what will we see from this squad this season? And though Louisville has added maturity and a new system, will they be able to find any answers to stop this group? The Irish had some losses, but Tony Jones and Jafar Armstrong should be a nice 1-2 punch at running back. Chris Finke and Chase Claypool will need to cement themselves as top targets for Book, as some issues remain at receiver and tight end. But if they are in fact deficient, it likely won't manifest at this level.

There is perhaps less of a rosy outlook with the Notre Dame defense this season. Again, it's not likely to play a huge role in this game, with the Louisville offense looking as bad as it did last season. Still, a bulk of their relevant talent has departed. Abundant potential waits in the wings and there are still some valuable pieces remaining with a nearly-intact secondary featuring Jalen Elliott, Tony Pride, and Alohi Gilman. In the front seven, there are still horses with Khalid Kareem, Asmar Bilel, and Julian Okwara. How good this "D" ends up probably won't be gleaned in this game, barring some outrageous about-face orchestrated by the Louisville offense.

I don't question whether the losses on both sides of the ball will hurt the Irish this season, just not here. Ian Book will start the season as a starter for the first time and I look for him to turn it loose some. I expect a pumped-up Louisville team, but you can't pump yourself up enough to bridge this big of a talent-gulf. Defensively, the Cardinals can't contain this offense, even one with new pieces throughout. And watching the Cardinals struggle last season at scoring against worse defenses than what they will see on Monday, I find it hard to make a case that this one will in any way be competitive. I see a thorough beating issued by the Irish to kick off their season. I'm laying the points on Notre Dame.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish minus 20.5 points. Bet the Notre Dame vs. Louisville game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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