Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly knows who his starting quarterback is for Saturday night’s showdown at Virginia Tech.
Sportsbooks across Indiana, however, do not, and it is resulting in a wide range of spreads, totals, and other offerings for a critical matchup for the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish as they look to bounce back from their first loss of the season.
Notre Dame (4-1) fell out of the top 10 in both polls following its 24-13 defeat at home to then-No. 7 Cincinnati last Saturday. Starting quarterback Jack Coan failed to finish under center for the second straight game, but this time it was due to ineffectiveness versus injury. Coan completed 14 of 22 passes for 114 yards with an interception, and both Drew Pyne and freshman Tyler Buchner also saw action.
Pyne played the second half and threw for 143 yards and a touchdown but also completed just 9 of 22 passes. All three signal-callers took reps during practice this week, and while Kelly said he had settled on a starter for this contest, he did not disclose it to the media. Regardless of who is at quarterback, the Irish are putting on the line a 20-game winning streak versus ACC opponents that includes wins over Virginia Tech in 2018 and 2019.
The Hokies (3-1), who opened their season with an upset of then-No. 10 North Carolina, were idle last weekend after defeating FCS foe Richmond 21-10 on Sept. 25. Tre Turner had six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown as Virginia Tech’s defense and special teams picked up the slack for an offense that struggled after scoring on its initial possession.
What the sportsbooks are offering
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) October 5, 2021
Given the up-and-down performances of Coan and, to a lesser degree, Pyne in his limited action, the lack of consensus among operators is not surprising. Some have Notre Dame as a slight favorite, some have the Irish as an underdog, and a few are offering this game as a toss-up.
Unibet and BetRivers (-109) on the Kambi platform, DraftKings (-110), and theScore (-110) have all installed Notre Dame as a 1-point favorite. Caesars lists the game as a pick ’em with -110 on each side, while FanDuel lists the Irish as half-point underdogs at -108. BetMGM and WynnBET have Notre Dame +1 at -110 and -115, respectively.
The tight spread also means the moneyline has a narrow range from -105 at BetMGM and WynnBet to -115 at DraftKings, BetRivers, and Unibet. PointsBet enters the fray at -110, joining Caesars, and FanDuel sought the middle ground at -108.
The over/under can be grabbed as low as 46.5 points at FanDuel (-115/-105) and BetMGM (-110), though most are on 47. BetRivers and Unibet are straying off the standard -110, offering a -108/-113 split. WynnBET has the highest total, offering 47.5 points at -110 both ways.
Sportsbooks with variety in first-half offerings
It's gonna be a battle in Blacksburg! pic.twitter.com/dHIHVbdWXC
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) October 7, 2021
The first-half offerings show a similar wide variety to full-game ones, with bettors trying to figure out a Notre Dame team that has started slow offensively in each of the last three games. It failed to register a point in the first two quarters of its loss to the Bearcats.
The Kambi platform is more like an island for its first-half line, with BetRivers and Unibet offering Notre Dame -1.5 at +100. No other operator has a spread of a full point in either direction for either team — WynnBET and Caesars are both a pick’em, though WynnBet is the better value at +105 versus Caesars’ -110.
BetMGM and theScore have the Irish laying a half-point at +100 and -105, respectively, while DraftKings (-125) and FanDuel (-130) flip that to Notre Dame +0.5 points. No-tie moneyline plays have a narrow band from -110 to -118, but FanDuel has the Irish at +130 on a three-way moneyline.
The first-half over/under has a low side of 22.5 points at DraftKings (-120/+100) and theScore (-125/+105), while Kambi (-117/-112), BetMGM (-110), and FanDuel (-110) all share the high ground at 23.5. PointsBet (-121/-110), WynnBET (-115/-105) and Caesars (-110) have staked out the middle at 23.
For those who like wagering on the first quarter, there are some interesting plays to ponder. DraftKings and Caesars have Notre Dame as a half-point favorite while offering +130. FanDuel is giving Irish bettors a half-point at -156 for the opening 15 minutes. There is another plus-money play for the Irish on a three-way moneyline, with FanDuel’s +170 a better payout than +130 at BetRivers and Unibet.
Some operators offer a first quarter over/under, and a half-point here makes a huge difference in value. FanDuel and Kambi both have an over/under of 9.5 points, with the former split -122/+100 and the latter -143/-110. DraftKings and Caesars counter with +100/-120 on a flat 10 total, which can be reached with a touchdown, PAT, and field goal.