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Monday, June 16, 2014
Early odds not in Irish's favor

By Matt Fortuna

The Golden Nugget opened wagering Friday on 200 college football games for the 2014 season. Notre Dame, which has no shortage of marquee names, was featured prominently on the list.

Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is in the eye of the beholder.

Vegas is apparently not too high on the Irish with the season this far out. The Irish are underdogs in four of the 11 games currently open for betting, and they aren't exactly overwhelming favorites in most of them. (The Aug. 30 opener vs. Rice was not listed.)

The lines that immediately jump out are the double-digit ones — two of which have Notre Dame on the losing end. Defending national champion Florida State is a 24-point favorite over the Irish for their Oct. 18 matchup. Archrival USC, meanwhile, is a 10-point favorite over Notre Dame for the Nov. 29 regular-season finale.

While a line as high as 24 points always stands out, the latter line seems to be a bit more surprising than the former, considering the Trojans have a new coach in Steve Sarkisian, are playing in the daunting Pac-12 and have lost three of their last four to the Irish. Favorites? Maybe. But the Irish being double-digit 'dogs against their nemesis probably will not go unnoticed.

Notre Dame is also the underdog against Stanford (minus-6) and at Arizona State (minus-4.5).

The two lines favoring the Irish that jump off the page? Giving Purdue 21 points in their Week 3 tilt seems a bit much, given how close the Boilermakers have played the Irish in recent years. Conversely, being just a 3-point favorite at Navy is probably a little alarming, despite the fact the Midshipmen almost pulled off the upset last year in South Bend, Ind.

The first line listed is probably the most favorable one for Irish fans, as Notre Dame is a 3-point favorite over Michigan in the last scheduled meeting between the rivals.

If recent history and the odds currently out now are any indication, how the Irish fare against the Wolverines could go a long way toward determining what kind of campaign awaits them in 2014.