Notre Dame Slight Favorite For Bowl Game, Indiana Slight Underdog

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Notre Dame and Indiana are looking to conclude their respective 2019 seasons with bowl victories as both schools will travel to Florida for postseason play.

The Fighting Irish, who are going bowling for the ninth time in 10 seasons under coach Brian Kelly, will face Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 28. Indiana, which will make just its 12th bowl appearance in its 121-year program history, squares off versus Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Jan. 2 in Jacksonville.

Notre Dame has been established as a 3.5-point favorite at -110 across DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetRivers versus Iowa State, which finished in a four-way tie for third in the Big 12. All three sportsbooks also have established an over/under of 57 at -110 on either side.

FanDuel is offering Notre Dame as a -170 favorite on the moneyline compared to -175 at DraftKings and BetRivers, with Iowa State a +145 underdog at FD and +140 at DK and BR.

Indiana (8-5), which is guaranteed its first winning season since finishing 7-6 in 2007 , is a 1.5-point underdog versus Tennessee as coach Tom Allen leads the Hoosiers into their second bowl game in four seasons since he arrived in Bloomington.

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All three sportsbooks are offering -110 odds on both sides. FanDuel is offering an over/under of 49.5 points at -110 while DraftKings and BetRivers have established their over/under at 49 points at -110. There is hardly any variance in the moneyline as all three have Indiana at +100 to win while FD has Tennessee as a -120 favorite compared to -121 for DK and BR.

Irish seeking first back-to-back 11-win seasons in 30 years

Notre Dame (10-2), which finished 15th in the playoff rankings and is currently ranked 14th in the AP Top 25, has not had back-to-back seasons of 11 or more victories since winning its last national title in 1988 and following it with another 12-win season in 1989.

The Fighting Irish won their final four regular-season games and boast one of the nation’s highest-scoring offenses at 37.1 points per game, good for 13th among FBS teams. Ian Book, who became just the second quarterback in school history to throw for at least 30 touchdown passes with 33, is four shy of matching Brady Quinn’s single-season school record set in 2007.

Book is sixth in the nation in touchdown passes and threw for 2,787 yards. He also was Notre Dame’s second-leading rusher with 516 yards and added four rushing TDs. Senior wide receiver Chase Claypool is having a career season with 59 catches for 891 yards and 12 touchdowns and needs three scoring receptions to match the single-season school record, most recently accomplished by Will Fuller in 2014.

The Irish defense will have to find a way to stop Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, who helped the Cyclones rank 26th in scoring at 34.1 points per game. The sophomore threw for 3,760 yards and 27 touchdowns, and the Cyclones rank ninth in the nation in passing at 318.3 yards per game. They are looking for their third consecutive eight-win season — a streak they have accomplished just once previously in program history from 1976-78.

Notre Dame is 4-4 in bowl games under Kelly, though it was forced to vacate its 2013 Pinstripe Bowl win over Rutgers due to NCAA violations. The Fighting Irish have won just five of their last 16 bowl games, but they have won their last three when playing an unranked opponent.

They are facing Iowa State for the first time in school history.

Hoosiers seek first 9-win season since 1967

It took Indiana three tries, but its 44-41 double overtime victory at Purdue on Nov. 30 to reclaim the Old Oaken Bucket also marked its first eight-win season since 1993. The Hoosiers have relied on two quarterbacks for most of the season, with Peyton Ramsey taking over after Michael Penix suffered a season-ending sternoclavicular injury in a Nov. 10 victory over Northwestern.

Ramsey, who was the full-time starter last season, has completed 69.2% of his passes for 2,227 yards and 13 touchdowns with only four interceptions in 266 attempts over 10 games. Despite the mid-season switch, Indiana ranks 13th in passing yards at 308.7 per game and 31st in total offense (443.6).

The senior signal-caller is helped out by wide receiver Whop Philyor and running back Stevie Scott. Philyor became just the seventh player in Hoosiers history with 1,000 receiving yards, completing the regular season with 1,001 on 69 receptions en route to second team all-Big Ten honors. A sophomore, Scott had 845 yards and is 18 shy of 2,000 for his career.

All four of Indiana’s losses have come to ranked teams, and its defense struggled down the stretch. The Hoosiers yielded 28 or more points in five of their final six games and 34 or more in each of the last three.

Tennessee (7-5) is in a bowl game for the first time in three seasons, winning its final five games to overcome a 2-5 start that included a surprising home loss to Georgia State to open the season and defeats to ranked conference foes Florida, Georgia, and Alabama by a combined 82 points. Second-year coach Jeremy Pruitt will be making his first bowl appearance, and the Volunteers’ five-game winning streak is their longest in a season since closing the 2015 season with six straight victories.

Junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano played well down the stretch, throwing for 1,026 yards and eight TDs during Tennessee’s winning streak. Jauan Jennings needs 58 receiving yards to become the eighth player in school history to reach 1,000 and the first since Justin Hunter had 1,083 in 2012.

The Vols rank 28th in total defense, giving up 337.1 yards per game, and 29th in scoring defense (21.7 ppg).

Indiana last won nine games in 1967, which is also the last time it won the Big Ten title. The Hoosiers have faced Tennessee just once previously, losing 27-22 in the 1988 Peach Bowl.

Photo by Darren Yamashita / USA Today Sports

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Chris Altruda

Chris Altruda has been a sportswriter with ESPN, The Associated Press, and STATS over more than two decades. He recently expanded into covering sports betting and gambling around the Midwest.

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