Fighting Irish vs. Wolverines Predictions for College Football Week 9
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Wolverines, Saturday October 26, 7:30 p.m. ET
I've been a Michigan fan - the obsessed kind - for almost 40 years now. And even I am bored of talking about this team right now. It's just not much fun, because they just aren't particularly good. The offense can't even come close to playing to the level of their talent because Shea Patterson has forgotten how to play football. The defense isn't nearly as impressive as it was the last couple of years. And they make a dumb mistake seemingly every time they touch the ball. Entering the season, it seemed like the window was wide open for them to make a statement nationally. But as we sit right now, it seems like the bigger race is to see if they can exceed eight wins. This Fighting Irish vs. Wolverines matchup is another tough game for my favorite team in Week 9, but I will still offer some unbiased predictions below.
If I - and every other Michigan fan out there - is feeling disillusioned, frustrated and short of give-a-damn, why are we bothering to preview this Notre Dame vs. Michigan game ? Well, for starters, there are only three games for Week 9 between two ranked opponents, including this one, and those are the games we typically look at. But, more significantly, this game jumped to our attention when the initial odds were posted and Michigan was made the favorite. The first numbers were close to a touchdown, but that fell almost immediately to 2.5. It has fallen further, and Notre Dame is a narrow favorite now . But just the fact that Michigan was favored here was surprising - particularly for anyone who has watched more than a few minutes of Michigan play this year. That alone makes this one worth a closer look.
Notre Dame at Michigan Betting Storylines
Turnovers. That's what stands out as the biggest storyline here, and it's not often you can say that. Michigan has played seven games and has turned the ball over 14 times. They aren't the good kind of turnovers, either - whatever those would be. They have been sloppy. They can't hold on to balls. They can't throw to the right receiver. It has been a massive problem and has really gotten in the way of their progress. They have lost nine fumbles and thrown five picks, to have a negative turnover differential - a statistical category they rank 92nd in nationally. Notre Dame, meanwhile, leads the entire country in turnover differential, ranking first with a +1.67 rate per game. They have turned it over just four times all year. In Michigan's two losses to Wisconsin and Penn State, they have turned the ball over five times, and their opponents haven't turned it over at all. They shoot themselves in the foot consistently in the biggest games, and no team is better at exploiting that than Notre Dame. It's a problem for the Wolverines.
Another problem is that Michigan is at a severe disadvantage at quarterback. Patterson looks nothing like the five-star future NFLer that he was supposed to be, and now as a senior he really should have figured it out. The shift to a new offense under OC Josh Gattis has not worked well for Patterson. He consistently misses open receivers, he's tentative in pressure situations, and he's not nearly accurate enough. Ian Book has been more accurate and effective for Notre Dame. And he has a much more potent running game to work with as well - Notre Dame is gaining 1.35 more yards per carry than Michigan. It's another area of concern for the Wolverines.
Notre Dame at Michigan Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened wide with Michigan favored by 2.5 points, but that has flipped, and Notre Dame is now favored by a single point. The Irish have drawn more than three-quarters of all bets in this game so far, so the line movement is no surprise. The total opened as low as 48.5 and has climbed to 51.
The Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall and 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 against teams with winning records. They are 42-20-2 ATS in their last 64 October games. The Wolverines are 5-1 ATS in their last six games in October, but just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
Notre Dame at Michigan Predictions and Picks
This is a night game at home against a hated rival, so the Wolverines should have a boost from the crowd. But I'm not convinced that that is enough. The Wolverines have not been playing well against good teams, and they are dealing with too many distractions off the field. They were strong for good stretches against Penn State, and that version of the team could solidly win this one. But we haven't seen enough of that team, and at this price Michigan isn't the right team to trust. Notre Dame is the choice at anything less than three points.
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