College Football Picks: Notre Dame at Michigan Odds and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 9/6/2013
Notre Dame hasn’t won in Ann Arbor since 2005. That streak could extend indefinitely if they don’t pull off a win here. Thanks to the pseudo-move of the Irish to the ACC, this is the last time these teams will play in the Big House for the foreseeable future. It’s the end of a great rivalry, and it makes the stakes in this one even higher than normal.
Even without that storyline, this one would be important. Both teams have national aspirations. Notre Dame was humiliated in the National Championship Game last year and would like another shot at proving they belong. Michigan may be a year or two away from true elite competitiveness, but they are building rapidly under Brady Hoke and are eager to prove that they are better now than people think. A loss here wouldn’t be fatal for either team — and would hurt Michigan less because it falls outside of conference play, but a win would be a major springboard into the rest of the season.
Notre Dame at Michigan Betting Storylines
There are a lot of factors that will impact the outcome of this game — as in any game. Perhaps the biggest factor here, though, will be the middle of the lines when Michigan has the ball. Led by Taylor Lewan, Michigan has arguably the best offensive tackles in the country. They bookend a far less experienced and reliable interior line, though. The middle of the unit is improving, but they seriously lacked depth and are still climbing out of a major recruiting hole. They face a major test because they will face a defensive line that is probably Notre Dame’s single biggest asset. Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt are as good as any linemen in the country not named Jadeveon, and Prince Shembo is no slouch. They will get creative in their attempt to overwhelm Michigan. The Wolverines have more running back depth than they have had in years, but that won’t matter if they can’t establish that run early — something they didn’t have to worry about as much with Denard Robinson in the backfield.
The quarterbacks are another interesting storyline. After taking over unexpectedly last year, Devin Gardner is the man in charge this year for Michigan. He threw two interceptions in the opener against Central Michigan, and one was ugly, but he also has at least two touchdowns in each game he has played and is noticeably learning with each game. He has the potential to be a game-changer — and faces a Notre Dame secondary, and particularly a linebacker corps, that is vulnerable. Whereas Gardner wasn’t supposed to start last year, Notre Dame’s Tommy Rees definitely wasn’t supposed to start this year. This was supposed to be the year that Everett Golson chased the Heisman, but he got himself suspended, and Rees had to step up. He has plenty of experience, but that doesn’t necessarily inspire. At their best Gardner is unquestionably the more-talented quarterback. The question is whether he can be the one to deliver when it matters here.
Notre Dame at Michigan Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Michigan favored by three points — roughly the home field advantage. About two thirds of bets have come in on the home team so far, and that has seen the spread climb a point to four. The total sits at 50.5 points and has shown an upward tendency in early action.
Michigan has covered the spread in five of the last seven games between the squads, though Notre Dame won and covered at home last year. The home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings. Michigan has gone “over” the total in their last four home games.
College Football Picks: Notre Dame at Michigan Predictions
I just don’t trust the Irish. They were flattered by an outmatched opponent in their opener, but the after-effects of the National Championship Game blowout and the subsequent key roster changes are going to be felt significantly. It was a tumultuous offseason for the team, and that can’t help but have an impact early in the season against a good team. The crowd will be fired up for this second home night game. Michigan will ride that wave and will exert the advantages they have. Taylor Lewan did an admirable job of containing Jadeveon Clowney and the South Carolina pass rush in the bowl game, and he and his line can do the same here — perhaps not winning that matchup, but playing to a draw. Michigan has the better quarterback, a more well-rounded defense, and more depth than they have had in a long time. The Wolverines are the pick, and I expect them to cover the spread with reasonable comfort.
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