Expert College Football Picks: Michigan at Notre Dame Odds and Betting Predictions
Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Saturday Sept. 1, 5:30 p.m. ET
There are many things that make college football so great and, in the view of many including myself, better than the NFL. One of them is how insanely important a game before Labor Day can be. Both Michigan and Notre Dame have playoff aspirations. And by 9 p.m. on Saturday night the aspirations of one of these teams will have likely taken a massive, perhaps fatal, hit, while the other team will have received a real boost. The NFL just can't offer that. A team could lose every game in September and still win the Super Bowl. To add to it here, these are two programs that don't like each other at all and which are back to playing after their traditional rivalry was ended a few years back for incredibly stupid reasons. And the game is under the lights, so it will have even more public attention than a Michigan vs. Notre Dame game already would. In short, this game is college football in all of its' perfection.
Michigan at Notre Dame Betting Storylines
As a very long-time Michigan fan, I can testify to the incredible pressure leading up to this game. It feels like everything is building to this spot. Jim Harbaugh hasn't been as bad as some national media figures want to say, but he hasn't had quite the results anyone expected, either. And this is the best look at the big time that he is going to have for a while. He has a defense that is absolutely loaded and which will take big hits at draft time next year. He has the best QB he has had at Michigan by a very wide margin, and he isn't likely to have him past this year. The offensive line should be improved from the mess it was last year, running back is deep, and the receivers, while not as strong as they could be after the recent loss of top option Tarik Black to injury, have serious upside. There are a few questions - the offensive tackles aren't set in stone, and the safeties aren't as strong as the rest of the defense - but this is an experienced team and pretty close to a complete one. It has to be now for Harbaugh, and he knows it. But he has not had great success against the biggest rivals and in the biggest games. And he opens on the road here in a huge game. Over the course of three hours we will truly find out what this Michigan squad is made of.
Notre Dame is a talented team as well, and coach Brian Kelly needs a win here every bit as much as Harbaugh does. Incredibly, after 10 wins last year, Notre Dame has a shot at having double-digit wins twice in a row for the first time since 1993. The team has questions at QB, where Brandon Wimbush took the starting job but hardly has a firm hold on it. He will be hampered by the absence of top running back Dexter Williams, who got himself suspended for the first three games of the season. He will be well protected by a line that should be strong despite two big losses. That line strength is a psychological edge for the Irish - all five likely starters were recruited by Michigan, and at least two were top Wolverine targets. The defense returns eight of 11 starters, but the unit ranked only 46th in the country last year, so much of the same doesn't necessarily mean a big positive.
Michigan at Notre Dame Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Notre Dame favored by 2.5, and the bettors weren't buying it at all. It fell very quickly, and Michigan is now favored by a single point . Action is still slightly tilted towards Michigan but not enough to swing things significantly without a major development. In fact, despite the Michigan attention you can find the game at pick 'em at Bovada as I write this. The total sits at 47.
The Wolverines are a dismal 1-3-1 ATS in their last five road games and a more concerning 1-5 ATS in their last six games out of conference. Notre Dame can't gloat, though - they have identical and underwhelming 1-4 ATS marks in their last five overall and last five against the Big Ten.
Michigan at Notre Dame Predictions and Picks
I can't pretend not to come into this game with an agenda. Here's the thing, though - and I say this with as close to an objective slant as is humanly possible. I don't see how you don't take Michigan here at this price. Their defense was truly elite last year and has the potential to be even better on paper this year, and they are up against a QB that is starting by default and a run game missing their top player. The Michigan offense is much improved, and Shea Patterson could be sitting on a huge season -- and he is up against a defense that was the definition of average last year. Michigan's showing in big games of late hasn't been ideal, but this is by far the better team right now, and it's not like Notre Dame has consistently risen to the occasion the last couple of years, either. I think Michigan wins and wins convincingly - and that's not just because I'm a fan who will spend a week in the fetal position if they don't.
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