Notre Dame a National Title Contender: What are the Odds?

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In the College Football Playoff Playoff last season you saw just how close, but yet at the same time how far the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are to winning another national title. The Irish didn’t give eventual national champions Clemson much of a fight, with the game result not at all in doubt by midway through the second quarter.

Still, it was a better showing than the last time they played for the big prize, back in 2012. Clemson went on to roll Alabama in the national title game, in a manner even more lopsided than how they thrashed Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl semifinal.

Now, with the days to the 2019 season counting down- who are the favorites to win it all and where does Notre Dame fit in?  

This is something to consider right now as sports gambling becomes legalized, hence de-stigmatized and therefore mainstreamed here in the United States.

As you might expect, the defending champs and last year’s runners-up are your co-favorites again. Clemson and Alabama have combined to produce eight of the last ten national champions, including the last four consecutive. So much for parity! Maybe a game of craps has more variability after all.

Clemson and Alabama are typically priced by the sports books around +225, with a big drop off to the next set of contenders, which is a group usually led by Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, LSU, Texas and Oklahoma, among others. Right now, Odds Shark has Notre Dame way down at +4000 and Vegas Insider backs the Irish at 50/1.

Not too bullish a market there for ND national title prospects. That’s understandable, given how the last time they took the field they lost 30-3 and were out-gained in yardage 538-248 by the current champs, and leading contender to win it all again this time.

When you come at the king, you best not miss, and the result down in Dallas was no fluke.

“I think Clemson wins that game nine out of 10 times,” Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said.

clemson tigers

However, there is still plenty of reason for optimism, as the program is coming off back-to-back double digit win seasons for the first time in over two decades. And while yes, they have lost some top talent, there is also a lot of key guys and big time players returning.   

“People can say (it was huge) because the score was like that,” said Notre Dame wide receiver Chris Finke (one of those key, important players returning to South Bend this season).

“For me and the other players on the field, we didn’t feel outmatched.”

“We didn’t execute our game plan and didn’t get the job done, but I don’t think we were totally on a different field, you know?”

national title game

The Irish will have a chance to prove that they belong on the field with the best of the best this fall, but almost all of their key games will be on the road. Their home schedule, on paper at least, is a bit weaker than usual this season.

They visit Georgia on Sept. 21 and Michigan on Oct. 26, and both dates are must win in order to contend for the playoff.

Another factor to remember is they don’t play in a conference, and hence have no league title game, so they have to go 12-0 again in the regular season in order to get back into the final four. 

When all is said and done though, the smarter money is probably best served betting on Clemson and Alabama.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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    Keep up the good writing.

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