UNLV at Notre Dame betting preview: Fighting Irish big favorites as they look to get back on track

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Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman looks at the scoreboard during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Stanford in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will look to steer their season back on track Saturday as they play host to the UNLV Rebels.

The Rebels started the season at 4-1 but have been blown out by a combined score of 82-14 in losses to San Jose State (40-7) and Air Force (42-7). Quarterback Doug Brumfield has been good this season, throwing for 1,231 yards and eight touchdowns. However, he has missed the last game and a half and is questionable because of a concussion.

Things took another bad turn for Notre Dame last week as the Fighting Irish lost to Stanford 16-14 to fall to 3-3 after starting the season ranked No. 5. The Cardinal had not beaten an FBS team in over a year but were able to force two turnovers and hold Notre Dame to 3 of 12 on third downs. Quarterback Drew Pyne had completed at least 70.6% of his passes in his past three games, but only completed 13 of 27 (48.1%) in the loss to Stanford.

Caesars Sportsbook lists the Fighting Irish as a 26.5-point favorite with an over/under of 47.5.

Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:

UNLV Rebels at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Time/TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Peacock

Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Notre Dame -26.5

Money line: UNLV +1800, Notre Dame -7000

Over/under: 47.5

Analysis: If Brumfield can’t go Saturday, the Rebels will roll with Cameron Friel. In limited playing time, he is completing 73.5% of his passes. While the UNLV offense hasn’t been great without Brumfield, the defense hasn’t been great much at all. The Rebels have given up at least 20 points in every game this year, including 30+ in the past four games. Notre Dame doesn’t have an elite offense, so the Rebels defense has a chance for a bounce-back.

For Notre Dame, the offense starts with Mitch Mayer, who may be the best tight end in all of college football. Mayer has two games this season with at least 100 yards and is averaging 88.7 yards in his past three games. He is a mismatch on most days, and the Rebels don’t have a guy who can stop him.

Notre Dame is not having the season it wanted to be this year. However, the Fighting Irish do have two very solid wins against North Carolina and BYU. This team is still capable of going to a bowl game, and that run begins with grinding out a win against UNLV. The Rebels cover in a higher-than-expected scoring game.

Prediction: Notre Dame 35, UNLV 17

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