Upcoming Match-ups

USF vs Notre Dame Picks and Odds

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Football

Updated Mar 5, 2021 · 9:12 AM PST

Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on the Irish sideline. (Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire)
  • One of the biggest spreads of Week 3 features No. 7 Notre Dame hosting South Florida on Saturday, Sept. 19th, at 2:30 pm ET in South Bend
  • The Fighting Irish are 25.5-point favorites over the Bulls in a rematch of a wild 2011 game
  • Find the odds, a breakdown of the matchup and a pick for the game in the article below

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, which entered the top ten at No. 7 in this week’s AP poll, host the USF Bulls in an intriguing Week 3 matchup. The Irish opened as a 26.5-point favorite, but the number has come down slightly during the week to 25.5 heading into Saturday.

This is a rematch of a 2011 game that saw the Bulls upset the Irish 23-20 in South Bend in that season’s opener. As for the 2020 version, both teams are coming off solid Week 2 wins with Notre Dame knocking off Duke 27-13 last week and USF beating The Citadel 27-6.

USF vs Notre Dame Week 3 Odds

Team Moneyline Point Spread Over/Under Total
South Florida +1300 +25.5 (-110) Over 47.5 (-115)
Notre Dame -4500 -25.5 (-110) Under 47.5 (-105)

Odds taken Sept. 18th from FanDuel

Notre Dame got a huge outing from running back Kyren Williams against the Blue Devils. The sophomore rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns, while making a pair of catches for 93 yards. Williams is the first Notre Dame player to record 90 yards both rushing and receiving in a game since 1996.

Meanwhile, the Bulls ran all over the Citadel in Week 2. The ground game amassed 302 yards, led by Kelley Joiner’s 87 yards on only eight carries. Joiner also scored a touchdown. The USF defense showed up as well, forcing three turnovers.

So, how does this apparent mismatch shape up? Let’s break down the USF vs. Notre Dame odds and make a pick.

Bulls on Parade

South Florida – then coached by Skip Holtz, son of former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz – beat the Irish 23-20 on Sept. 3, 2011. That game was marked by the first  weather-related delay in Notre Dame football’s storied history, either home or away.

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Since then, the USF program has gone 54-57 and is currently on its third head coach since Holtz, who left after the 2012 season (not including interim T.J. West, who coached the 2017 Birmingham Bowl when Willie Taggart left for Oregon). So, the Bulls are the definition of a mediocre program over the last decade.

But, there’s a chance the Tampa school may have found its next up-and-coming leader in Jeff Scott.

Great Scott

The former co-offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach at Clemson doesn’t have the likes of Deshaun Watson, Trevor Lawrence, Mike Williams or Hunter Renfroe at USF. But Scott does have a stable of versatile quarterbacks who got key reps against The Citadel.

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Senior Noah Johnson had only four attempts through the air – completing three for 24 yards – but ran seven times for 49 yards and a score. Meanwhile, sophomore Jordan McCloud was 11-of-16 for 68 yards and a score, while freshman Katravis Marsh was 4-of-5 for 10 yards.

A three-headed monster is unlikely to get it done against an Irish team anxious to play a complete game. But I expect Scott’s squad to keep this one relatively close.

Title Aspirations

While Notre Dame’s legitimate College Football Playoff hopes may ultimately boil down to how it performs Nov. 7, when the Irish host Clemson, every game along the way is critical. Especially in this condensed 2020 season.

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Williams could be a breakout star. His effort against Duke helped the Irish finish with a 441-334 advantage in total yards. Veteran signal caller Ian Book threw for 263 yards and a score, but there was definitely room for improvement.

The Irish wants to come out strong in Week 3, as the Devils hung with the Irish for a half.  One key stat – Notre Dame limited Duke to 75 yards on the ground. Another stout performance against South Florida is a strong possibility.

The Irish have a 19-game home winning streak and were out-gained 151-13 in the first quarter by Duke. I expect the Week 3 matchup against South Florida to be very much decided in the first 30 minutes.

Judging by USF’s still uneven play at quarterback – and Notre Dame’s ability to run the ball with Williams and stop the run with their defense – this one has under written all over it.

The Pick: Under 47.5 (-105)

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