William Hill Sportsbook is listing Notre Dame with an Over/Under of 9.0 victories for the upcoming college football season, with the Under a -130 favorite. Per usual, the Irish, who are back to independent status after a one-year stop in the ACC, have a very tough schedule. In one way, it's the toughest in the national as a whopping six of the 12 regular-season opponents have bye weeks before facing the Irish. No other team in the nation has more than three such games.
Presumably, it will be Wisconsin transfer quarterback Jack Coan under center when the Irish open the season on Sunday, Sept. 5 as early 9.5-point favorites at Florida State. Coan started 18 games for the Badgers in 2018 and '19 but didn't play in any of Wisconsin's seven games last year after suffering a foot injury in preseason camp and having surgery.
Graham Mertz was clearly the future under center at UW, so Coan transferred to Notre Dame. The Irish have an opening after one of the best QBs in school history, three-year starter Ian Book, declared for the NFL Draft. Book was a fourth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints.
After facing FSU, Notre Dame hosts Toledo on Sept. 11 and the Rockets are usually one of the better teams in the Mid-American Conference. They are not off a bye week but have an easy opener vs. Norfolk State.
On Sept. 18, Purdue visits South Bend and the Boilers are not off a bye week, either, but also off facing a cupcake opponent in UConn.
Coan will face his former Wisconsin team on Sept. 25 at Soldier Field in Chicago and the Badgers are off a bye week. UW is 7-3 straight up and against the spread in its past 10 out of a bye.
Next up is a fourth straight home game for Notre Dame against a loaded Cincinnati team on Oct. 2. Coach Luke Fickell's team is off a bye and UC is 5-5 ATS in its past 10 following one.
On Oct. 9, the Irish travel to Virginia Tech and, yep, the Hokies are off a bye week. They are 5-5 ATS in their past 10 in that scenario. Even though Notre Dame was in the ACC last year, it didn't play VT.
Notre Dame then gets a bye week ahead of hosting Southern Cal on Oct. 23 – that prestigious rivalry was postponed last year. The Trojans also come off a bye week and are 6-4 ATS in their past 10 when doing so.
On Oct. 30, North Carolina and QB Sam Howell, a potential 2022 No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick, visit South Bend. The Heels also come off a bye week. They lost at home to Notre Dame 31-17 in a terrific game last year.
The Irish renew their rivalry with Navy on Nov. 6 in Baltimore; that also was called off in 2020. The Middies are not off a bye.
On Nov. 13, ND visits Virginia and the Wahoos are off a bye. The schools didn't meet in 2020.
Nov. 20, the Irish host Georgia Tech and on Nov. 27, Notre Dame visits Stanford. Neither of those opponents are off a bye week.
So, to recap: Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Southern Cal, North Carolina and Virginia are off bye weeks when facing Notre Dame, but the Irish also are against USC.
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