#15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-2) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (7-5)
NCAA Football: Saturday, December 28th, 2019 at 12:00 pm ET (Camping World Stadium)
Line and Odds: Notre Dame Fighting Irish -3.5 Over/Under: 53
Free ESPN NCAA Football Picks Iowa State Cyclones vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
It has been a bit of a weird year for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Last season, the Irish went 12-0 and earned a trip to the College Football Playoff. Despite losing to Clemson 30-3 in last year’s Cotton Bowl, there was some national championship hype around Notre Dame coming into this season. In the 3rd game of their 2019 season, Notre Dame played a thriller at Georgia. The Fighting Irish lost to the Bulldogs 23-17, but they still had hopes of making an impact in the national title hunt. They beat Virginia 35-20 and beat USC 30-27 to go to 5-1 on the season. In late October, Notre Dame made a trip to Ann Arbor to play Michigan. This is where Notre Dame’s hopes were irrevocably damaged.
The Michigan Wolverines beat Notre Dame by a score of 45-14. It ended Notre Dame’s chances at winning a national championship. As it turns out, it also ruined their shot at a New Year’s Six bowl. Since they don’t play in a conference, there was no conference championship left for the them to play for. It felt like a team that would just end up going through the motions after that loss. It’s a great credit to Brian Kelly that they’ve been able to play so well in the wake of the Michigan defeat. Notre Dame has won their last 5 games, beating 4 of their last 5 opponents by over 20 points. There is a question among some pundits about whether Notre Dame will be motivated for this game. Based on the last 5 games, I don’t think motivation will be an issue here. They are a self-motivated team that plays very hard, even if there’s “nothing to play for.”
The Iowa State Cyclones have been a model of consistency under head coach Matt Campbell. In 2017, the Cyclones went 8-5. In 2018, the Cyclones went 8-5 again. This year, Iowa State is 7-5 with a chance to hit the 8-win mark one more time. Iowa State’s season can be characterized as a series of near-misses. There was a little bit of a panic in Ames, Iowa after the opening game. Iowa State needed 3 overtimes to beat FCS-team Northern Iowa at home. While it wasn’t immediately clear, this game did become a harbinger of things to come. The Iowa State Cyclones would play up or down to the competition throughout the year.
Each of Iowa State’s 5 losses were by 10 points or less. 4 of their losses were by 7 points or less. All of the 4 losses that fell within a touchdown margin, came against teams that finished in the College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings. In 4 of their 5 close losses, they were tied or had the lead in the 4th quarter. In September, they lost at home to Iowa 18-17 and on the road to Baylor 23-21. Late October saw Iowa State lose 34-27 at home to Oklahoma State. The most painful loss of the season was probably their 42-41 road loss to the Oklahoma Sooners. Iowa State was down by 3 touchdowns in the 4th quarter, but stormed back to rally 42 to 41. The Cyclones opted to go for 2 after scoring their last touchdown, but fell short. Their last loss came at Kansas State in the final game of the season 27-17.
Their best win of the season came against the Texas Longhorns 23-21. It is the only win the Cyclones have against an FBS team with a winning record. If Iowa State manages to beat Notre Dame, it will be the best team they would’ve beaten all season. Can they prove that they can actually beat a top-tier team?
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
Notre Dame is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games.
The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Notre Dame’s last 15 games.
Notre Dame is 8-1 SU in their last 9 games this season.
Iowa State is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games.
Iowa State is 13-7 SU in their last 20 games.
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Iowa State’s last 5 games when playing as the underdog.
ESPN NCAA Football Scores Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Iowa State Cyclones
I like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish -3.5 in this matchup. I believe that I’m getting an undervalued Notre Dame team because of the speculation that they won’t be operating at peak capacity. There are some instances of teams going to bowls where that is actually the case. For example, it is clear the the Miami Hurricanes didn’t want to play in the Independence Bowl. It ended up showing on the football field. I don’t believe this is the case for Notre Dame. The Irish haven’t really had much to play for for the last month or so. They have still performed at a high level, so I expect nothing different today. This line should be closer to Notre Dame -6, in my opinion. I respect Iowa State’s ability to keep games close against quality opponents. Having said that, I don’t believe the Cyclones have played a team this hot all season. I expect Notre Dame to win and cover the spread in this one.