Notre Dame Football: Fighting Irish Open the Season Against the Rice Owls

Rice Owls vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Saturday, 8/30/14, 3:30 PM EST
Opening Point Spread:  Notre Dame -20.5
Current Betting Line:  Notre Dame -20.5
Opening Total:  N/A
Current Total:  N/A
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 14-4 SU in their L18 home openers
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 14-4 SU in their L18 home openers

Rice hasn’t been in position to reach a bowl games in three consecutive years since 1962, as it looks for its first victory in this matchup in five tries.  The Owls are going to be hard pressed in picking up a win, considering they’ve gone 5-17 in road openers, with the five victories coming by an average of five points.   Eighth-year head coach David Bailiff will need to find a new signal-caller, but he does welcome back two players that gained 400-plus yards on the ground in 2013.  Rice is 7-2 in its last nine non-conference affairs, which can’t be ignored when making your NCAA football picks.

The Owls will try to control the line of scrimmage with an offensive line that welcomes back 92 career starts, but that group also allowed a sack on 10.7 percent of their snaps in 2013.  Rice may not struggle in defending the pass in this affair, but the secondary has some major holes to fill after an extraordinary campaign a year ago, especially with Philip Gaines departure after leading the country with 18 pass breakups.

Notre Dame has a major reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season, with playmaker Everett Golson returning under center after sitting out a year ago.  The Fighting Irish will have one of the best run games in the country, especially if sophomore running back Tarean Folston can build off the 291 yards he gained on the ground in the final three games of a season ago. Fifth-year head coach Brian Kelly will likely keep things vanilla on this side of the ball, as it said goodbye to over 50 percent of its production at the wide receiver position.

The Fighting Irish will likely take a step back on the defensive end, which is important to consider when looking over the NCAA football lines, as they need to replace two linemen that earned All-America honors two years ago.  Notre Dame has talent all over the field, but it faces a very challenging schedule—one that gains strength in Week 2 when hosting the Michigan Wolverines in South Bend.

Sports bettors will likely play the total, as the UNDER is 35-16-1 in the Fighting Irish’ last 52 games.

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