(24) Louisville Cardinals at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-3.5, 53 o/u)
After a shocking loss to Northwestern, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish – erstwhile playoff contenders – will look to salvage a now-disappointing season by beating Louisville on Saturday (3:30 p.m. Eastern).
After starting 6-0, Notre Dame has lost three of its last four, including two straight. Last week’s 43-40 OT loss to the lowly Wildcats came despite a big day for QB Everett Golson, who threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns. Indeed, in all of the Irish losses this year, it has been the defense that let the team down. They were torched for 51 points by Arizona State two weeks ago, and gave up 31 to Florida State in mid-October.
“We’re looking for answers. You’ve got some good ones, I’m all ears,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. “You guys want to write something down on a piece of paper, slide it to me, I’ll take it. We’re searching.”
Meanwhile, Louisville is quietly putting together a nice season. The Cardinals are also 7-3 overall, but the nature of their losses have kept them in the top-25. The Cardinals have suffered two close losses on the road at Virginia and Clemson, and one at home to Florida State. (Though they failed to cover against FSU, ultimately losing by nine as four-point dogs.) In their last outing, they beat Boston College 38-19 in Boston.
Trend-wise, the Fighting Irish are 1-4 ATS in their last five games as a favorite and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games in November. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have been a great bet on the road, especially against good teams. They are 17-4 ATS in their last 21 road games against teams with a winning home record. They are also 23-8 ATS in their last 31 road games, total.
Louisville has a good shot to continue that trend this weekend; its defense is ranked 10th in the nation in scoring (17.8 PPG), and 11th in takeaways (25 total). On Saturday, they will be facing a Notre Dame team that has turned the ball over 23 times over the last seven games (including 19 by Golson alone).
(Photo credit: Cherie Cullen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)