The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are certainly formidable foes on their home turf under the watchful eyes of Touchdown Jesus, but the Irish are also just 14-17-3 against the spread at Notre Dame Stadium in five-plus seasons under head coach Brian Kelly. The Golden Domers are big favorites for Saturday afternoon's meeting with Massachusetts in South Bend.
Point spread: The Fighting Irish opened as 28.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and a matchup report can be read here.)
College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 47.4-23.5, Fighting Irish
Why the Massachusetts Minutemen can cover the spread
UMass is 0-2 straight up and 1-1 against the spread this season, after falling to Temple last week 25-23 but covering as a 13-point dog.
The Minutemen trailed 14-0 against a pretty good Owls outfit early in the game, then rallied to take a 23-20 lead with just over a minute to go. But they had their extra-point attempt blocked and returned for two points before allowing Temple to drive 50 yards for the game-winning field goal in the waning moments.
On the day, Massachusetts piled up 438 yards of offense, as senior quarterback Blake Frohnapfel connected on 29 of 55 throws, with three touchdowns against just one interception.
The Minutemen opened their season two weeks ago with a 48-14 loss at Colorado, although that game was tied midway into the second quarter.
UMass returned 19 starters this season, including a senior at quarterback, a future NFL draft pick at wide receiver, the entire offensive line and nine on defense. The Minutemen don't have the talent to pull off the upset Saturday, but if they keep their heads, withstand any onslaughts and avoid the turnovers, they could keep this one close.
Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread
The Irish are off to a 3-0 start straight up and are 2-1 against the spread this season after last week's 30-22 victory over Georgia Tech.
Notre Dame, playing with backup quarterback DeShone Kizer, entered the game as a two-point home dog, but built a 30-7 lead. They eventually let the Ramblin' Wreck score a pair of late touchdowns that made the final score look a little more respectable.
The Irish outgained the Yellow Jackets 457-337, got 198 yards on the ground from running back C.J. Prosise and benefited from a 21-of-30 passing performance from Kizer in his first collegiate start.
Notre Dame opened this season with a 38-3 victory over Texas, covering as a nine-point favorite, then rallied to win at Virginia 34-27, although it couldn't cover the 13-point spread.
The Irish returned 16 starters this season after going 8-5 last year, and young Kizer has already produced a pair of victories. If Notre Dame plays at the same level it did last week, it can cover this spread.
Notre Dame is probably going to win this ballgame, but playing at home means the spread is probably inflated, perhaps by as much as a touchdown. Also, a week after a nice win over one ACC contender and a week before a tough road game at another, the Irish might experience a lull. The smart choice here is with UMass, plus the points.
Massachusetts is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games.
Massachusetts is 0-23 SU in its last 23 games in September.
The total has gone under in 11 of Notre Dame's last 12 games at home in September.