College Football Picks: Michigan State at Notre Dame Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/19/2013
This is a showdown between ranked teams, but it is hardly a high-powered showdown at this point. Notre Dame was beaten up by Michigan under the lights and then suffered through a hangover last week that saw them struggle against Purdue, of all teams. Michigan State has elite defensive statistics, but the Spartans have shown nothing remotely resembling a legitimate offense, and they are taking a big step up in class here. There have been some great games between these two teams, but both squads will have to take a step forward for this to be another one.
While the Spartans are boasting a Top-5 defense nationally, it is very important to remember context when considering what that means. Their first three opponents have been Western Michigan, South Florida and Youngstown State — hardly offensive super powers. While the defense is good, we don’t know how good it is yet. Notre Dame has had some offensive issues of their own, but they are dramatically better than those other three teams. This is a potentially misleading statistic. So is Michigan State’s last offensive showing. Connor Cook got the start and threw for 202 yards and four touchdowns — something Michigan State quarterbacks definitely have not made a habit of recently. That came against an outclassed Youngstown State team, though. Notre Dame has by far the best offense that the Spartans have faced, and that could be a real problem. The good news, though, is that in Connor Cook they finally have a clear QB starter — for now, at least.
Michigan State at Notre Dame Betting Storylines
Michigan State will be motivated to beat the Irish in this one. Since the start of the 2011 season, the Spartans are an impressive 11-2 in nonconference play. The problem is, though, that those two losses have come against Notre Dame. A revenge factor like that can be a positive or a negative. If coach Mark Dantonio can harness the thirst for revenge and channel it onto the field, it could be a motivating factor. If the Irish are inside the heads of the Spartans, though, then it will be as if Notre Dame has a lead before the game even starts.
The Notre Dame faithful might be a little lukewarm in their reception early in this game. Their team started the season with a nice win at home against Temple but then went on the road for two. The loss at Michigan was frustrating, and the narrow win at Purdue was just plain humiliating. The crowd will be as loyal as always to start. However, if the Spartans were able to get out to a fast early start, things could quickly get ugly. This team doesn’t strike me as the most mentally-durable in the best of cases, so it could be a real concern if things turn ugly.
Michigan State at Notre Dame Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Notre Dame favored by the key number of seven. It has since fallen and can be found as low as 4.5 points. Action is basically split between the teams, with only a slight edge for the Spartans. The dramatic shift in odds, then, is a pretty clear sign that sharp money isn’t backing the Irish here. The total opened at 42.5 and has fallen to 41.
The Irish have won nine in a row at home, but they are 0-4 ATS in their last four games. They will look to establish the run early since that is where Michigan State is most vulnerable. More significantly, they are 25-2 under Brian Kelly when winning the rushing battle. The road team is 10-2 ATS in the last 12 meetings between the teams.
College Football Picks: Michigan State at Notre Dame Predictions
As a fan, I am torn in this one — I’d prefer for both teams to lose. I like making money more than cheering against most teams, though, so I am happy to take a side. At seven points I might have struggled, but now that the line has fallen, I will happily take the Irish. The Spartans’ defense is going to show more cracks than it has so far, and Tommy Rees and company will be able to move the ball. Michigan State’s offense is a work in progress — to be kind — and they will struggle here in the face of what can be a devastating pass rush. Notre Dame is the better team, they will be hungry, and they will win and cover.
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