Book it Mann: Week 5 – Virginia at Notre Dame (-10.5)

(Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics)


In the last write-up, I dove into why USC would pull the “upset” on Utah. The Trojans scored first and were able to maintain the lead throughout most of the game. USC won outright as an underdog. That got me off to a nice start on the week, which turned sideways Saturday afternoon.

The plays I recommended in last week’s article went 4-3 with three of the underdogs winning outright for nice money line winners. Unfortunately, I lost confidence in my Wisconsin pick and bought out of that play, so it was really a 3-3 week. This brings the record to 11-13. The record does include some underdog winners on the money line. So overall, the picks are in the black.

How much will Notre Dame QB Ian Book and the Fighting Irish have left in the tank, after last week’s emotional game vs Georgia – (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)

Notre Dame


The Notre Dame offense looked better than expected this week against a good Georgia defense. They were able to move the ball for over 300 yards of offense and converted on 4 of their 13 third down attempts. However, Ian Book did turn the ball over twice on the road.

Notre Dame is near the top in the country statistically on offense. The Irish are averaging 0.608 points per play and 6.9 yards per play. This is extremely efficient as both rank in the Top 15 nationally. These numbers could be skewed slightly as they have faced Louisville and New Mexico in two of their games.

Louisville looks to be much improved, but gave up the second most points per play in college football last season. Compared to the Irish’s next opponent, New Mexico is horrific defensively. Against the Bulldogs, the Irish averaged 5.26 yards per play and 0.279 points per play.


The Irish defense was very underrated last season compared to what the public seemed to believe. They only gave up 0.239 points per play which ranked 4th nationally. The Irish ranked 16th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.

This season the Irish defense looks to be hit or miss. They are giving up 0.257 points per play which is currently 25th nationally. The game against Louisville was concerning, as they gave up 5.3 yards per carry. They allowed Louisville to convert 6 of their 15 first downs. The defense looked more impressive vs Georgia as they held the Bulldogs to 23 points and only 4.6 yards per carry.

I have to attribute some of the success against Georgia to conservative play calling by the Bulldogs. Georgia was inexplicably handcuffing one of the best passers in college football with short routes and 33 hand-offs. All the Irish had to do was play downhill most of the game.

Virginia QB Bryce Perkins’ athleticism could be a problem for the Irish defense



With six starters back, the Virginia offense is not lighting the world on fire. The Cavaliers lack the ability to pick up big yardage plays, as they are only averaging 4.9 yards per play. However, they have capitalized on good field position as they are averaging 0.447 points per play (38th nationally).

It is somewhat surprising that Virginia’s worst offensive output was last week against Old Dominion. The Cavaliers played much better on offense against Pittsburgh and Florida State. This is likely due to Virginia looking ahead to this week’s game against Notre Dame.


The defensive side of the ball has by far been the strength of this team. They are only allowing 0.250 points per play and 3.9 yards per play.  Against the run Virginia is has been exceptional allowing just 2.3 yards per carry. That ranks 7th nationally.

The 5.9 yards per pass that Notre Dame averaged against Georgia could improve slightly vs the Cavaliers. Virginia allows 6.0 yards per pass compared to 4.7 for Georgia. Virginia has faced a little better competition than the Bulldogs.

The Cavs 10.5 could have a lot of hidden value

The Pick

Under normal circumstances I would have Notre Dame as about a touchdown favorite on a neutral field against Virginia. Add 3 points for home field advantage and that gets us to our line of 10/10.5. The advantage Virginia has in this game is that while they were looking ahead last week to this game, the Cavs have to pick themselves off the mat. Notre Dame led Georgia at the half but could not hold on against a superior team on the road.

It is extremely difficult to bounce back after playing teams like Georgia, Alabama and Clemson. The physical and mental toll on these kids after playing teams like that is draining. Notre Dame put everything they had into last week’s game and are likely crushed. Additionally, the loss likely eliminates the Irish from CFP contention. That could also impact the Irish’s mental focus.

One other key factor in choosing the Virginia side is seeing how Notre Dame struggled with a dual threat quarterback in Louisville’s Jawon Pass. A mentally and physically exhausted Irish defense could have trouble stopping the running ability of Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins. I am taking the Cavaliers plus the points. I also will likely sprinkle a little on the money line.

Other Bets:

Duke +2.5 ⭐⭐

Duke ML ⭐⭐

Nebraska +17.5

Arkansas +23

Arizona St ML

Northwestern +24