Notre Dame Football: Vegas Odds Suggest Low Expectations for 2014 Irish

Matt SmithCorrespondent IIIJune 13, 2014

USA Today

There are various signs that college football is right around the corner during the summer. One of those came Friday, when the Golden Nugget sportsbook in Las Vegas released its opening lines for its college football "games of the year."

With Notre Dame playing a rigorous schedule and always being a popular play for bettors, lines for 11 Fighting Irish games were released Friday.

Golden Nugget Opening Lines for 2014 Notre Dame Games
DateOpponentLine
Sept. 6Michigan-3
Sept. 13vs. Purdue (Indianapolis)-21
Sept. 27vs. Syracuse (East Rutherford)-5 1/2
Oct. 4Stanford+6
Oct. 11North Carolina-2 1/2
Oct. 18at Florida State+24
Nov. 1vs. Navy (Landover)-3
Nov. 8at Arizona State+4 1/2
Nov. 15Northwestern-8
Nov. 22Louisville-8
Nov. 29at USC+10
Golden Nugget Sportsbook

Because Notre Dame always draws heavy action, lines for Irish games often tend to be inflated a bit in order for a sportsbook to draw an equal amount of money on each side of the line. 

Analyzing the lines, they actually come in much less favorable to Notre Dame than I had imagined. Notre Dame is listed as an underdog in four games (Stanford, at Florida State, at Arizona State, at USC) and is favored by a field goal or less at home against Michigan and North Carolina. With a three-point advantage generally given to the home team, Las Vegas is saying the Irish are on par with the Wolverines and Tar Heels.

I expected the Florida State line to be closer to 14 than 24, and USC and Arizona State to only be field-goal favorites rather than 10 and four-and-a-half respectively. Stanford being listed as a six-point favorite in South Bend means Las Vegas thinks the Cardinal would be nine to 10 points better than the Irish on a neutral field. That's surprising.

The Purdue, Northwestern and Louisville lines were all close to what I anticipated. The Irish being a mere three-point favorite against Navy shows the respect that the Midshipmen have garnered among oddsmakers, and five-and-a-half for Syracuse was four to five points fewer than my expectations.

No line was listed for the season opener against Rice.

Notre Dame was 5-8 against the spread last season and is 24-25-3 in the four-year Brian Kelly era.