Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame – College Football (Saturday, October 2, 2021)

By Dan Vasta in College Football
| October 1, 2021 7:41 am PDT

Notre Dame football has been must-watch television this season. Every game has had intrigue, and we haven’t seen many blowouts. If it were not for completely dominating the fourth quarter, the Irish would have sweated another game to the wire against Wisconsin.

Brian Kelly picked up win No. 106, which is the most in program history. The Golden Domers will again be thinking about the national title picture, but they cannot afford any setbacks.

Cincinnati has the defense to pull this game off. Luke Fickell has found ways to win every week, and a veteran signal-caller in Desmond Ridder surely helps.

Many believe this matchup could be game of the year material since both are highly respected. It will be a Top 10 tilt in South Bend between the Bearcats and the Fighting Irish.

To further discuss this matchup, it is time to dissect the latest odds.

Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame Odds

Cincinnati (-2.5)-114
Notre Dame (+2.5)-106
Cincinnati to Win-118
Notre Dame to Win-102
Over 50.5-105
Under 50.5-115

Look at who is favored? The Irish are a slight home underdog, and they have covered the spread in four straight home games that they were the underdog.

When Notre Dame is a home dog at three points or less, the Irish have come through. ND has covered and won three in a row. The Bearcats are 7-3 against the spread when they are a road underdog of three points or less.

Overall, Cincy has gone 5-5 against the spread as road favorites.

Kelly against Top 25 foes in his career is 31-26. He has a 13-4-1 record against the spread as a home underdog. Fickell has a 3-6 record against the spread as a road favorite.

This matchup comes down to whether you believe in Cincy or not. The Irish have been a clutch program in the regular season, but Fickell has magic. That is why this spread is in his favor.

Those are the latest odds for this Top 10 tussle, but here are the keys to victory.

Why Cincinnati Wins

Luke Fickell has been nearly flawless with the Bearcats. Other than not managing the clock against Georgia in the Peach Bowl, he has been remarkable.

Desmond Ridder is the real deal and has been able to extend plays as well as any signal-caller in America. Alec Pierce and Michael Young are playmakers out wide, but they will do their best to own the line of scrimmage.

Ridder has legs that can create free plays in the running department. He has found ways to win games in crunch time and has played mistake-free football.

The Bearcats have one of the best defensive pass rushers in the country. Myjai Sanders is a stud off the edge, but he has some talented teammates around him. Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant are two of the better corners in the country. They will limit the damage from the Irish passing attack.

The points may not be flowing in this one, which favors Cincinnati on the road.

Why Notre Dame Wins

Brian Kelly and Marcus Freeman have been one of the better coaching tandems in the country thus far.

Freeman came over from Cincinnati in the offseason, so this will be a reunion for a few coaches here. Brian Kelly once coached the Bearcats to a Sugar Bowl appearance. He opted out of the game to prepare for Notre Dame. He has been magical everywhere he has coached.

The Irish were 4-8 in 2016, but Kelly has since had four consecutive Top 12 finishes. Throw in two trips to the CFP, and this program continues to find success.

Cincy could be the most challenging game remaining for them. An undefeated Irish team won’t get left out of the CFP, but this game will come down to the wire.

The mental focus is an edge the Irish may have here. ND has been executing at will thanks to their coaches. It has shown in the fourth quarter of most games. Jack Coan (leg) avoided a costly injury against Wisconsin, but he may not even be 100%.

Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree are two burners in the backfield that have made plays all over the field. Tyree brought back a kick that turned the game around last week over Wisconsin. Expect these two to carry the offense in a slow-paced game that goes down to the wire.

Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame Prediction

The top Group of Five squad in America has its eyes set on reaching the College Football Playoff. The ACC looks dead as a doorknob in terms of the CFP. The Pac-12 is often shaky since they have only appeared in the playoff twice in seven years. The Big 12 with Oklahoma could be the third wheel to the SEC, but this game is vital.

The winner will be among the favorites to reach the playoff. The remaining teams are dwindling because the losses keep piling up.

The loser will likely be on the outside looking in, with the winner creeping towards the top five.

Both of these two have hopes of reaching the playoff. Neither could make it, but they will likely appear in NY6 bowls. They have proven themselves as top squads. I am leaning with the Bearcats on the road in a game that could exceed the hype.

Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame Pick

This matchup should be a challenging road environment for the Bearcats, but their defense will allow them to keep it close for four quarters. With questions in the Irish passing game, and even though Coan is likely to start, Cincy will have too many answers.

Ridder is a winner, and their ability to spread the Irish secondary out and expose them in the red zone will make up the difference. The moneyline is the safer play. Take the Bearcats to win outright in a thriller as your best bet.

Pick
  • Cincinnati to Win
    -118

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