Notre Dame vs. California prediction: Cal’s got this covered

Notre Dame has struggled mightily to reward new coach Marcus Freeman with the first win of his career. It won’t come as easily on Saturday as oddsmakers are suggesting, either.

The Fighting Irish enter Week 3 as 11.5-point favorites over visiting California, which has gotten off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2019. Those Bears knocked off a top-15 opponent en route to a 4-0 start, and Justin Wilcox’s group has the talent on defense to pull off another stunner.

It was just two weeks ago that Notre Dame entered the season ranked No. 5 in the country, with legitimate national title hopes. Boy, those crumbled quickly. The Irish scored just 10 points in a season-opening loss to Ohio State, then lost at home to unranked Marshall in one of the biggest upsets in program history.

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Starting QB Tyler Buchner (shoulder) left the Marshall game with a season-ending injury. His backup, Drew Pyne, promptly threw a game-sealing interception on his second attempt. He’ll be the one leading the charge on Saturday for Notre Dame’s sputtering offense.

Betting on College Football?

The Bears have owned one of the best defenses in the Pac-12 and boast some offensive upside behind Purdue transfer QB Jack Plummer, who played in this stadium a year ago and posted a relatively efficient showing in a loss. Notre Dame should win this game, in theory, but don’t expect a blowout.

The play: California +12.5

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