The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will host the Temple Owls to open up the 2017 season. Kickoff is set for 3:30 EST at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2nd. The game will be televised nationally on NBC.

Taking a look at the Week 1 spreads, oddsmakers currently have the Fighting Irish as a 17.5-point favorite with the total at 53 points. It’s worth noting that this line has jumped a ton since it opened at ND -13.5.

Notre Dame vs Temple Betting Preview & Vegas Game Odds

Things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Irish in 2016. Notre Dame ended the year at 4-8. The worst mark since they were 3-9 under Charlie Weis back in 2009. It marked the first time they failed to win at least 8 games under head coach Brian Kelly, who is entering his 8th season in South Bend.

Most are expecting things to return to form in 2017, and there’s reason to believe it will with 15 returning starters (8 offense, 7 defense). Kelly also upgraded his coordinators on both sides of the ball. Last year’s team also wasn’t as bad as the record would indicate. They had 7 losses by 8-points or less.

Temple surprised everyone by going 10-4 and reaching the AAC title game in 2015. Not many expected them to follow it up, but they did just that. The Owls again went 10-4 in 2016, expect this time they won the American, beating Navy 34-10 in the title game.

That success came at a price, as it often does for non-power 5 programs. Head coach Matt Rhule left for Baylor and in comes a whole new staff. The new head coach is Geoff Collins, who spent the last two years as Florida’s defensive coordinator. It won’t be easy avoiding a setback, as Temple returns just 10 starters, losing key pieces on both sides of the ball.

Free College Football Against the Spread Pick: Temple +17.5

I’m clearly in the minority here, but I like the value with Temple in this one. Notre Dame is one of the biggest public backed teams in college football. Oddsmakers had to know the early action was going to come in on the Irish when they opened this up around two touchdowns. That tells me they don’t hate having to root for the Owls.

Click here for more week 1 betting free picks from our expert handicappers.

I’m on board with Notre Dame being improved, but there’s a lot of question still to be answered. I know there’s a lot of excitement around sophomore starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush, but he’s got 5 career pass attempts. He’s also got to learn a new offense. Same thing with the defense and it learning new schemes.

Losing Rhule is a big blow for the long-term future of this program, but Temple’s AD has hired well. The previous two head coaches were Al Golden and Steve Addazio. You have to keep in mind that the majority of these players are Rhule’s recruits and have been developing under him the past few seasons.

Collins was an excellent defensive coordinator and I think he’s going to have the Owls playing a lot better defensively than most would expect with only 4 starters back.

Temple also has some nice pieces on offense to work with. Running back Ryquell Armstead had 919 yards and 14 scores as a backup last year. They also have their top 3 receivers back and talent on the offensive line. They have to replace their all-time leading passer in Phillip Walker, which might seem like a tall task. However, Walker didn’t put up overwhelming numbers last season.

The Owls are a team that thrived playing with a chip on their shoulder under Rhule. I expect them to show up looking to make a statement here and prove to everyone that all is not lost with Rhule’s departure.