No. 18 Michigan Wolverines (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Saturday, September 22nd, 2012/7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mich. +6/ND -6
Over/Under Total: OFF
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After scoring what head coach Brian Kelly called a signature win the
11th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will try and avoid
the letdown and continue to run the gauntlet when the 18th-ranked Michigan
Wolverines come to Notre Dame Stadium Saturday on NBC.
The win Kelly was referring to was a highly impressive, 20-3, victory over Michigan State on the road in East Lansing last Saturday. Led by an amazing performance by LB Manti Teo and an Irish defense that held the Spartans to 237 yards of total offense, the Irish are 3-0 and off to their best start and highest ranking in the Associated Press poll in over a decade.
Michigan has had two weeks to lick their wounds from the Alabama beat-down in the opener, including a 63-13 laugher over Massachusetts last Saturday. Denard Robinson threw for nearly 300 yards and three scores in the win, but he also threw another interception as the Wolverines continue to be turnover prone.
However, scoring 94 points in two games (albeit Air Force and UMass) has to breed a little confidence for Robinson as the Wolverines try and climb the ladder back to relevance and the Irish try and stay near the top-10 rungs when their annual rivalry game kicks off this Saturday night.
The point spread for this years Michigan-Notre Dame tussle opened with the Irish as strong 6-point favorite at home in South Bend. At first glance I thought it may have been a little inflated due to the huge public following of the Golden Domers and their very impressive victory over Michigan State, but with over a day of it being live it has yet to move in either direction.
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As of press time the over/under total has yet to be released.
Last week there were questions about the Notre Dame offense and which quarterback was going to be the starter, but just because Everett Golson started and played okay (14-of-34 for 178 yards, TD) Im not so sure the questions about the Irish offense were answered. The Irish were able to run the ball pretty good considering it was against a good Michigan State defense (122 yards, 3.6 ypc), but their inability on third downs (1-for-14 vs. Mich. St.) could end up wearing out that awesome defense too quickly.
Michigan and Robinson will be the best test for the Notre Dame defense thus far, but the script to beat the Wolverines has already been written by Bama keep Robinson contained and make him throw to beat you. With Teo all over the field and the Irish front seven able to bring pressure out of their base sets without blitzing, Robinson may be running for his life unless the Wolverines can find a way to run the ball downhill and be more physical on the line of scrimmage.
Michigan has been an entire thorn bush in the side of Notre Dame lately, winning three in a row and five of the last six. Last year they scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to complete a miracle comeback, 35-31. The year before it was the opposite, with Notre Dame trying to complete the comeback with 17 second-half points only to fall short again when Robinson scored with 27 seconds left for a 28-24 win.
Not only has Michigan been winning straight up, but theyve been cashing for bettors at the window at the same rate, going 3-0 ATS in the last three and a 5-1 ATS in the last six head-to-heads. The Wolverines have done it mostly as 3- to 3.5-point underdogs as well, making the underdog a solid 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
The over also appears to be a solid betting trend play, going 3-1 the past four years and a rock-solid 5-1 in the last six game in Notre Dame Stadium going back to the 2000 season.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im sold on Notre Dames defense, Im just not impressed at all by their offense. Michigan does pose a bigger threat on offense then any other team the Irish have faced, and if Robinson can hit a homerun on a big play (which he has done the past three years), the Wolverines can hang a few scores on them and make the Irish have to pass to chase. Plus, after a signature win can the Irish match that intensity again? Notre Dame may win it, but I dont think theyll cover the number. Take Michigan plus the 6-points.
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