Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Fighting Irish Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/3/2014
Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Saturday Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m. ET
This game, on one level at least, is everything that is wrong with the new era of college football that countless conferences shifts has brought us. These two teams are bitter rivals. They are also the two winningest programs ever - the teams are so tight that the winner of this game will have the best all-time winning percentage.
They should absolutely play every year - and every year they play it is a classic. This will be the last time they meet, though - at least the last time for a long, long time. Notre Dame opted for only pseudo-independence this year - they are still technically independent but play an ACC-heavy schedule each year as a result of a partnership with that conference. That means that a near-perfect rivalry with Michigan has been pushed aside in favor of opponents like Wake Forest - what people have been wanting for years (tongue firmly planted in cheek here).
That aside, this final meeting is as important as any in recent memory for both teams. Both squads won their first game easily, but both have all sorts of questions - so many that we can't really be sure of what we can expect from either of them. Notre Dame has five players missing thanks to an academic scandal and a quarterback that hadn't played in 19 months before last week. Michigan lost two draft picks, including a first rounder, on the offensive line and is starting a very young unit featuring a true freshman at left tackle. Both teams have talent and plenty of upside, but would it be at all surprising to see either team wind up with just seven wins? I didn't think so.
Michigan at Notre Dame Betting Storylines
If there is one player to watch above all others in this game it is Michigan receiver Devin Funchess. The converted wide receiver is a massive freak, and against Appalachian State in the opener he was completely unstoppable. He scored three touchdowns, and each was easier than the one before it. He is a very difficult matchup for the average cornerback, but double teaming him with any regularity opens up other opportunities for the solid receiving corps outside of Funchess. Last year Michigan struggled to consistently take advantage of having Funchess, but a new offensive coordinator and a new offense has changed that reality significantly. If Notre Dame doesn't have an answer for Funchess early on then that could have a ripple effect that could have a big impact on the game.
Last year Michigan struggled against the run. Changes in personnel and a shift in coaching responsibilities was expected to improve that significantly this year. While that may be the case in the longer term, it is nonetheless concerning that an otherwise overwhelmed Appalachian State team ran for 153 yards. Notre Dame needs to take advantage of whatever weaknesses there are early so that they can establish the run. That can, in turn, create all sorts of opportunities and possibilities to stretch the field. If Michigan can find their mojo against the run, though, then the Irish could be in trouble. In terms of a showdown, Notre Dame's run game against Michigan front seven is probably the biggest key.
Michigan at Notre Dame Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Notre Dame favored by 5.5 points. With more than 60 percent of bets coming in on Michigan, it's no surprise that that number has since shifted to 3.5 points in most places. While the movement is significant, it isn't as important as it could be it went to or through the key number of three. The total sits at 55.5.
The underdog is 11-4 ATS in the last 15 meetings between the squads, but Michigan is just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games at Notre Dame. The home team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings. Notre Dame is 0-3-1 ATS in their last four September games. Michigan has gone "under" the total in their last four road games.
Michigan at Notre Dame Expert Predictions and Free NCAA Football Picks
Michigan is being given enough points here to make them attractive. They were a much more focused and efficient team last week than at any point last year thanks to coaching, primarily, and that will again have a big impact here. I don't trust the toughness of the Irish after all they have been through, and Michigan has the coaching edge and a slight edge at quarterback. Last year the Wolverines convincingly beat the Irish, and it is a much better Michigan team facing a Notre Dame team that hasn't taken as many steps forward. Michigan is the pick.
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