What Tho The Odds Be...

Las Vegas released point spreads for 11 of Notre Dame's 12 regular season games last week. How have the Irish fared under head coach Brian Kelly as favorites? As underdogs? We have a detailed breakdown.

Fans of Notre Dame have no doubt enjoyed Brian Kelly's tenure thus far. Four bowl trips including one appearance in the national championship decider is a return that most programs would love on their four season investment. But what about the cigar-toting sharps who sit in seedy Las Vegas sportsbooks wagering wads of rolled up bills? Have these people enjoyed success wagering on the Irish?

Probably not, as it turns out. Despite Kelly's 37-15 winning record as Notre Dame head coach, his record against the spread is a sub par 22-27-3. So if you were blindly throwing down money on the Irish to cover the spread every week, you may need your children to draw straws to decide which one will attend college. However, buried within the Irish's poor record against the spread in recent years are some interesting nuggets.

Much has been made of Notre Dame's relatively underwhelming performances against Pittsburgh since Kelly has taken over, and that has translated into their performance against the number. Notre Dame has never covered the spread against Pittsburgh under Kelly (0-3-1, all played as favorites), which may partly explain the heated reaction from fans after each of those games.

But even if you were gambling away your monthly health insurance payment on the Pittsburgh games, you had a chance to win it all back whenever the Irish played rival Michigan State. When Notre Dame has played the Spartans under Kelly the games have usually been close with the Irish covering three times with one push. One positive from the absence of Notre Dame on Michigan State's schedule this year will mean that the children of gambling Spartan fans should get a few extra Christmas gifts from Santa Claus.

While Kelly has a losing record overall against the spread, he has a winning record as an underdog (8-7). Even more impressive is his outright record of 7-8 as an underdog, so his team has won the game vs. the favorite almost 50 percent of the time. It's next chance will likely be on October 4 against projected top 10 foe Stanford, currently staked as a 5-point favorite over the Irish.

Unfortunately for Notre Dame gamblers, Kelly's teams don't usually disembowel the underdogs en route to victory and his record of covering against lesser teams is just 14-20-3. However Kelly's record outright as a favorite is 30-7 and a satisfying 17-1 over the last two seasons with the sole loss coming against Pittsburgh last year. Kelly's first two seasons were his least successful at the helm and that is reflected in his mediocre 13-6 outright winning record as a favorite (2010-11) while his most successful season covering the spread was the 2012 run to the championship game (7-6).

So what do these trends tell us about how the Irish will fare against the spread this season? After studying the trends and crunching the numbers like Robert De Niro's Ace Rothstein in Casino, it is clear that there are a few teams you should avoid betting against.

If you want to pay your heating bill during the bitter South Bend winter then avoid putting money down in the games against Michigan, Stanford and Purdue as Kelly's Notre Dame teams are a combined 3-9, 1-3 against the spread versus each.

USC is the only annual opponent where the odds may be in your favor, with Notre Dame covering the spread three out of four times with Kelly in charge including both games played in Los Angeles.

But if you don't feel confident with those games, you can always petition Michigan State athletics director Mark Hollis to let the Spartans play Notre Dame again and again while you watch the cash pile up.

Early point spreads for Notre Dame, 2014:

? As Favorites: Rice (Line yet to be released); Michigan (-3), Purdue (-21), North Carolina (-2.5), Navy (-3), Northwestern (-8), Louisville (-8).

?As Underdogs: Stanford (+6), @Florida State (+24), @Arizona State (+4), @USC (+10)


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