This Saturday the No. 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will play host to the Virginia Tech Hokies. Kickoff is set for 2:30 EST at Notre Dame Stadium and will be televised nationally on NBC.

Oddsmakers opened up this line at Notre Dame -17.5 and while most books are still sitting on that number, some places have the Irish at -18. The total for this contest opened at 58 and is down to 57.5 at most places.

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Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Virginia Tech vs Notre Dame

Virginia Tech Hokies (5-2 SU, 2-4-1 ATS)

The Hokies will be returning from their second and final bye week of the season, looking to build on a 43-41 win at home over North Carolina as a 4-point dog. Virginia Tech has won 3 straight overall and have really come on strong after a slow start.

A lot of people wrote off the Hokies after a 2-2 start that included a 28-35 loss at BC as a 4-point favorite and a 45-10 setback at home to Duke. The turnaround started with a 42-35 win at Miami as a 14-point dog.

It also coincided with a change at quarterback, as sophomore Hendon Hooker took over the starting job from returning starter Ryan Willis. Hooker hasn’t been lighting up defenses, as he only threw for 184 in the win over Miami and just 127 in the 6OT win against UNC, but he’s got a perfect 7-0 TD-INT ratio and has been sacked just 4 times. Willis had a 9-5 TD-INT ratio and was sacked 10 times. Hooker also is a much bigger threat on the ground with 156 yards to Willis’ 34.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS)

The Irish come into this one off an embarrassing 45-14 loss at Michigan as a 1-point dog. A game that was played in heavy rain, which really negated Ian Book and the passing game, as Book went just 8 of 25 for 73 yards. With that said, it’s hard to use that as an excuse when you give up 303 yards on the ground.

The big question with the Irish is how will they respond to that loss, as it all but ended their hopes of returning to the College Football Playoffs. Is winning out and getting to 10-wins and a potential New Year’s Bowl enough motivation for this team to keep fighting or will that loss be too much for them to bounce back from?

Matchup History

These two teams played for the first time back in 2016, which the Hokies won 34-31 as a 1-point dog. Notre Dame got payback for that loss last year, destroying the Hokies 45-23 as a 6.5-point road favorite.

NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Virginia Tech +17.5

My early lean here would be take the points with Virginia Tech, as I just don’t like this spot at all for Notre Dame. I think the public perception is that the Irish are going to be pissed off from that ugly loss to Michigan and will bounce back at home. I just have a hard time seeing Notre Dame being motivated in these final 5 games. I just don’t see a ton of motivation for the Irish now that they are out of the playoff picture.

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Not only do I feel like Notre Dame is getting way too much respect, I still think the public is slow to take notice to how much better the Hokies are right now compared to early on. This is a different team than the one that started 2-2 with those ugly losses to BC and Duke. There’s just a different feel to this team with Hendon Hooker at quarterback.

I not only think Virginia Tech has the goods to keep this within the number, but I would give them an outside shot at winning this game outright. Notre Dame is 2-0 against teams from the ACC, but they only won by 18 at home to Louisville and by 15 at home against Virginia. Both of those games were a lot more competitive than the final scores would indicate. They only outgained the Cardinals by 40 yards and were outgained by 16 yards by the Cavaliers.

Another big factor here that can’t be overlooked is that while Notre Dame just played in arguably the biggest game of their season (they win that and they are in the driver seat to finish 11-1 and make the playoffs), while the Hokies were on a bye. Having two weeks to prepare for a team is huge, especially this late in the year.

Virginia Tech is 15-5 ATS last 20 off an upset win over a conference rival and 15-5 ATS last 20 on the road off a win by 6 or less. Notre Dame is just 16-31 ATS last 47 at home in the month of November and 4-13 ATS last 17 after trailing in their previous game by 17 or more at the half. Give me the Hokies +17.5.