The undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish hope to avoid a letdown Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET when they host the improving Pittsburgh Panthers, who have a recent history of spoiling undefeated seasons for opponents. Notre Dame is coming off back-to-back blowouts of Stanford and Virginia Tech and can enter its bye week with an unblemished record if it takes care of business against Pittsburgh. The Panthers are hoping to build off an upset win as a home underdog against Syracuse in perhaps their most complete outing of the season. The Irish are 21.5-point sportsbook favorites in the latest Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh odds, up from an opening mark of -20.5 at most outlets. The over-under for total points scored has dropped to 55 from an initial offering of 57. Before you make any Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh picks, check out what SportsLine senior analyst Josh Nagel has to say.
A Nevada-based expert with 20 years of experience in the sports wagering industry, Nagel specializes in handicapping college athletics. He's having another solid season in college football, hitting on 60 percent of his spread picks for SportsLine members. Moreover, he has had a keen eye for the tendencies of these two programs. Over the past two years, Nagel boasts an amazing record of 7-1 in against the spread picks involving either Notre Dame or Pittsburgh.
In Week 1, for example, Nagel advised SportsLine members to back Notre Dame after Michigan climbed to a three-point road favorite. The Irish dominated early and held off a rally to secure a 24-17 win, and Nagel's followers picked up another winner.
Now, Nagel has scrutinized Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh from every possible angle to reveal a strong point-spread pick that he's sharing only at SportsLine.
Similar to handful of other top-ranked teams, Notre Dame dealt with the dilemma of having two competent and poised quarterbacks on its roster. The starting nod initially was given to Brandon Wimbush, who started most of last season. Wimbush is a powerful and explosive runner who sometimes struggles in the down-field passing game.
In an attempt to revive a stagnant offense that was managing just 23 points per game, the Irish turned to Ian Book, who saw some playing time last year while Wimbush was out injured. Book sparked the offense to a 56-27 win at Wake Forest and he has been the starter since. Notre Dame now ranks in the upper third nationally in most major offensive categories, averaging 34.8 points and 442 yards of offense per contest with a nearly equal split of production between the run and pass.
But just because Notre Dame's offense is firing on all cylinders with Book under center doesn't mean it can cover a three-touchdown spread against a Pitt program that is developing a reputation as a giant-killer of sorts.
Last year, the Panthers spoiled Miami's undefeated season with a 24-14 home upset as a two-touchdown underdog. Two seasons ago, they spoiled Clemson's bid for an undefeated campaign with a 43-42 road victory as a three-touchdown 'dog.
We can tell you Nagel is leaning Over, but he has also unearthed a crucial x-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. He's only sharing it at SportsLine.
Who covers in Pittsburgh vs. Notre Dame? And what critical x-factor causes one side of the spread to hit hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to jump all over Saturday, all from an expert who's 7-1 in his picks involving these two teams.