The 8th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish have started the 2018 season with a couple of victories, and this Saturday, September 15th, they will welcome the unbeaten Vanderbilt Commodores at Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana. The hosts are strong favorites to get a win with -550 odds, but the Commodores will certainly try to upset the Fighting Irish.
Place: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
NCAAF Week 3: Saturday, September 15, 2018, 2:30 ET.
VANDERBILT COMMODORES (2-0)
The Commodores started their campaign with a convincing 35-7 victory over Middle Tennessee State, while last weekend, they easily overcame Nevada Wolf Pack 41-10, playing both of these games in front of the home fans. This Saturday, the Commodores will be on the road, and the clash against Notre Dame will be their first serious challenge of the season.
Offensively, the Commodores are looking pretty good, averaging 407.0 yards per game, and their QB Kyle Shurmur is looking sharp at the start of the season. He averaged 214.0 yards for four touchdowns, completing 67.3% of his passes without throwing a single interception. The WR Kalija Lipscomb had seven receptions per game for 72.5 yards on average and three touchdowns so far. The tight end Jared Pinkney was another major target, averaging 65.0 yards per game, but he hasn’t scored yet.
The RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn carried the ball 10 times per game to average 65.0 yards and score two TD, while Jamauri Wakefield was another threat from the backfield with 49.5 yards per game and one TS thus far. Defensively, the Commodores had some ups and downs, allowing 328.0 yards per game to their opponents, but also forcing them into six turnovers over the first two weeks.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (2-0)
The Fighting Irish had a tough job in the first two weeks of the 2018 season but still managed to stay undefeated, beating the Michigan Wolverines 24-17 and the Ball State Cardinals 24-16, both times at home. Against the Cardinals, the Fighting Irish allowed 10 unanswered points in the 4th quarter, showing some vulnerabilities at the defensive end.
On the other side of the ball, their QB Brandon Wimbush was struggling in the first two games, completing just 54.7% of his passes for 233.5 yards per game. He threw for only one TD and four interceptions, so the Fighting Irish had to rely on their running backs Tony Jones Jr. and Jafar Armstrong. Jones Jr. averaged 11 carries and 53.0 yards per contest for two TD so far, whilst Armstrong recorded 14 carries and 50.5 yards per game to score three touchdowns.
The Fighting Irish’s wide receivers had a difficult time, as only Chris Finke scored a touchdown while averaging 2.5 receives for 47.5 yards per game. Miles Boykin had 3.5 catches for 73.5 yards per contest, whilst Chase Claypool caught three targets per game for 41.5 yards.
• 4-0-0 ATS in the last four non-conference games
• 4-7-1 ATS in the 2017 season
• Lost three out of the previous five games on the road
• 1-5-0 in the last six matchups against the team with a winning record
• 8-5-0 ATS in the 2017 season
• Won seven games in a row at home
The hosts have a strong team on both ends of the field, but their QB Brandon Wimbush will have to improve after a poor start of the season. This clash should be a great opportunity for Wimbush to prove his worth to the team, and if he puts on a strong display, the Fighting Irish should cover the spread. Vanderbilt played some nice defense in the first two weeks, but they returned just four starters at the defensive end, so their inexperience could be an issue when they meet the balanced Notre Dame offense.
The Pick: Notre Dame (-14.0) at -110
The line is a tricky one here, as the visitors have an experienced QB in Kyle Shurmur who could make some damage. However, I believe the Fighting Irish’s defense is well aware of his presence, so they should make a solid plan on how to prevent Shurmur to spread the ball around the field. Hereof, I’m backing the under in this one.
The Pick: Under 52.0 at -110