Favoring the Irish

A daunting schedule awaits Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly this fall. But the Irish will be, and in most cases, are already favored in the bulk of their contests for 2012.

Las Vegas' Golden Nugget Sports Book released live game lines for roughly 120 of the upcoming season's games, with 10 of 12 Notre Dame games receiving point spreads (home games vs. Purdue and Wake Forest the exceptions). All lines are subject to change, but all are also available for an actual wager, lending credence to the released spreads.

The Irish are favored in seven of the 10 released lines (and will be vs. the Boilermakers and Demon Deacons as well).

For the sake of reference, Notre Dame was favored, both in the pre-season and during game week, in 11 of 12 regular season games last year, the finale at Stanford, the exception.

Navy, Season Opener: The Irish have been installed as a 13.5-point favorite for the contest. Notre Dame covered a spread of 23.5 last year vs. the Midshipmen, winning 56-14. It was the first ND cover vs. Navy since 2008 when the Irish, favored by just four in Baltimore, won 27-21.

at Michigan State, Week Three: The Spartans open as 3-point favorites over Notre Dame in the team's first road game. Michigan State has been favored over the Irish in both of Notre Dame's last two visits to East Lansing. MSU was favored by 3 (as favorites of 3.5) in 2010 in the infamous "LIttle Giants" overtime victory, and by 8.5 in 2008, winning 23-7. Notre Dame's last win in East Lansing was 2006, a 40-37 overtime thriller. The Irish won in Spartans Stadium in 2004 and 2002 as well.

Michigan, Week Four: The Irish are a one-point favorite over a Michigan team that's beaten the three consecutive seasons, each on the Wolverines last offensive possession, each with less than 20 seconds remaining, and each after Notre Dame scored the apparent game-winning touchdown with less than four minutes remaining.

Miami, Week Six (Game 5): Notre Dame's fifth game of the season follows its September 29 Bye and the Irish are a whopping 9.5-point favorite over the Hurricanes in Soldier Field. Its the first regular season meeting between the schools since #7 Notre Dame defeated #2 Miami, 29-20 in 1990.

Stanford, Week Seven (Game 6): Losers of three straight to Stanford after taking the series' previous six, Notre Dame is a surprising 5-point favorite over the consensus Top 20 Cardinal.

BYU, Week Eight (Game 7): The Cougars won 10 games last fall and are a dark horse top 20 squad for 2012 but the Irish are favored at home by 9.5 points nonetheless.

Oklahoma, Week Nine (Game 8): The consensus Top 5 Sooners are a robust 11-point favorite over the visiting Irish as Notre Dame ends a challenging month with only its second true road contest of the season to date.

Pittsburgh, Week 10 (Game 9): The Irish return home to face a Panthers team in transition and have been installed as a 12.5-point favorite. Notre Dame is 0-3-1 against the spread vs. PIttsburgh in its last four meetings and 2-2 (W-L) since the series resumed on a continuous basis in 2008.

at Boston College, Week 11 (Game 10): Notre Dame travels to Chestnut Hill to face an Eagles team against which they've won three straight including a 31-13 beat down in Boston in Brian Kelly's first road victory as Notre Dame head coach. The Irish are favored by 12 in this road rivalry tilt.

at USC, Regular Season Finale (Game 12): One year ago today, Notre Dame was an 8.5 point favorite over visiting USC in South Bend. That number jumped to 9.5 by game time. Times have changed…back: the Trojans are favored by 12 over the Irish entering 2012.

If the number holds, it would be the biggest spread facing Notre Dame of the Brian Kelly era and the largest since Notre Dame traveled to USC for the season finale in 2008 (as incredible 33.5-point underdogs in a 35-point defeat).

Early Opponents of Note: Michigan State is favored by 6 in a Friday, August 31 battle vs. visiting Boise State…Alabama is a 12-point favorite over Michigan in Arlington on September 1…Stanford is a 7.5-point underdog at home vs. USC in mid-September.

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