With the Notre Dame Fighting Irish likely fielding another legitimate playoff contending team in 2016 and beleaguered Army simply looking to get back to being respectable, the only question surrounding the Week 11 matchup between the two Independent ballclubs is whether or not the Irish will cover the college football spreads. Let’s find out.
Analyzing The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Vs Army West Point Black Knights College Football Week 11 Free Picks
When: Saturday, November 12 at 2:30 PM ET
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
Bet The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Because…
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) finished the 2015 season ranked inside the top 35 in almost every significant offensive category including total yards (466.7 ypg, 26th) and scoring (34.2 ppg, 34th). Unfortunately, Notre Dame lost six starters on offense including a trio that will be playing a the next level in star running back C.J. Prosisse, tackle Ronnie Stanley and wide receiver Will Fuller.
The good news is that Brian Kelly has not one, but two, talented quarterbacks in DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire that he can turn to at a moment’s notice, no mater which one is deemed the starter. Kelly needs to find two new starters on the offensive line, but the Irish are stacked at the wide receiver position and shouldn’t have much trouble replacing Fuller at wide receiver. Notre Dame ranked a respectable 40th in points allowed (24.0 pg) in 2015 but lost an absolute stud linebacker in Jaylon Smith and another very good one in Joe Schmidt. The Irish also need to find replacements for tackle Sheldon Day, end Romeo Okwara, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and strong safety Elijah Shumate.
The good news is that Notre Dame has a wealth of talent on the defensive side of the ball and on the defensive line in particular. Unfortunately, the Fighting Irish could struggle with a defensive backfield that lost three starters, including both starting safeties from last year’s squad.
Bet The Army West Point Black Knights Because…
Army West Point (2-10 SU, 5-7 ATS) may have altered its name a year ago, but the Black Knights were a complete mess in head coach Jeff Monken’s second season. Army used three quarterbacks a year ago, none of whom looked very good while also employing five young running backs that all ran for at least 200 yards on the season. The bad news is that Monken will need to shore up an offensive line that graduated three seniors and saw another leave the team for personal reasons. Army’s leading receiver, Edgar Poe, is back, but he caught a paltry 16 passes a year ago, so clearly the passing attack needs to be fixed.
Defensively, the Black Knights ranked an impressive 48th overall, but just 75th in points allowed (27.8 ppg). Still, Army looks like they’ll be solid again behind standout linebackers Andrew King and Jeremy Timph and a secondary that is as athletic as any in the country.
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
There may not be a point spread available for this Week 11 pairing, but I’m expecting Notre Dame to be favored by at least three touchdowns. That figure might look like its too high for the Irish to cover, but I believe they will.
The Irish have beaten the Black Knights four straight times dating back to 1995 ad twice since 1996 while covering the spread in each of the last two meetings. With the Irish going 6-4 ATS as a favorite last season and the Black Knights going 4-4 ATS as an underdog a year ago, I say the Irish win and win big to cover a point spread that should be right around 21 points.