No. 20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. No. 10 Michigan State Spartans (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday, September 15th, 2012/8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ND +5/MSU -5
Over/Under Total: 43
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One of the best games on the entire card of college football this Saturday
will take place in Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich., when the 20th-ranked
Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to take on the 10th-ranked
Michigan State Spartans as both teams try and keep their
2012 season undefeated.
After opening the season up with a rout over Navy in Dublin, Ireland, the Irish returned home last Saturday and survived their first test of the season by dropping the Purdue Boilermakers, 20-17, on a 27-yard field goal by kicker Kyle Brindza with just seven seconds remaining. Surprisingly it was quarterback Tommy Rees who saved the Irish, as he came into the game in relief of starter Everett Golson (following Golsons fumble that allowed Purdue to tie it) and led the Irish on a 12-play, 55-yard drive that ended with the game-winner by Brindza.
Michigan State has taken the opposite approach to their 2012 season, surviving their opener with a tough win over Boise State (17-13) before drilling an overmatched Central Michigan team, 41-7, last Saturday in East Lansing. LeVeon Bell continues to be the workhorse, piling up 70 yards and a touchdown before exiting early in what turned into a rout early in the second half.
Unlike many of the other feature games on Saturdays card, the oddsmakers at the sportsbooks also think that the Irish-Spartans matchup will be a good one since they opened the game with Michigan State as 5-point favorites at home. Interestingly, the public seems to be a bit mixed on this game as some sports books have dropped the number by the hook to minus -4.5, while others have gone up the hook to -5.5, so it appears that money is coming in on both sides of this game at the window.
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The over/under total opened at a few sportsbooks at 43, but there hasnt been enough action yet to cause any line movement on the total.
Its a little harder to handicap this game offensively now that the Irish have opened up their QB controversy again. Golson won the job in camp and has done a decent job, but with Rees spearheading the game-winning drive last week Ive got to imagine the Irish locker room is divided again. Golson supposedly hurt his hand in the game and is listed on the injury report as probable, but knowing coach Brian Kelly and his short leash on QBs it would not be a surprise to see the two split time if the starter is struggling.
The starter likely will struggle too because the Spartans defense will be the toughest test yet for the Irish. Michigan State held Boise State to just 206 yards of offense and just 37 yards on the ground (1.5 ypc), while Central Michigan only mustered 245 yards total and the Spartans defense would have pitched a shutout if not for a late pick-six for the Chippewas only points last week. Notre Dame averaged only 1.4 yards per rush last week, a number that must go up if the Domers are going to spring the upset on the road.
Likewise, I expect the Spartans offense to have a rough go of it on Saturday against the Irish. Bell, who is averaging 140 yards a game after romping through Boise State in the opener, will not have as easy a time against the Irish strong front seven led by LB Manti Teo. QB Andrew Maxwell is also only two games into his Spartan career, and while he improved last week he has yet to face a defense that has as much speed as the Irish do on the field.
Notre Dame was beat up in their win over Purdue too, with starters on both sides of the ball missing time (DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, S Jamoris Slaughter, TE Tyler Eifert, WR DaVaris Daniels), but according to Kelly at his Tuesday presser they are all expected to be back by Saturdays game.
Michigan State has won its last two home games in the annual head-to-head series, but overall the road team is 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings. Notre Dame also enjoys a 4-1 ATS advantage over the Spartans in their last five trips to Spartan Stadium.
The over is also a strong betting trend wager, since the over is 6-2 in the last eight overall meetings and 5-2 in the last seven games played in East Lansing.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Neither team has played as good a defense as they will face on Saturday, and with a raw QB (Maxwell) and a huge question as to who the other QB will be (Golson or Rees?), Im having a hard time capping this game for either side. Im going to take the easy way out, and take the under in a game I see ending with a 20-17 or 21-14 type of final score. Take the under of 43.
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