Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan St Spartans: College Football Picks and Predictions

#20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at #10 Michigan St Spartans
Saturday, September 15, 2012, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Spartan Stadium – East Lansing, Michigan
Opening Line: Michigan St -4
Current Line: Michigan St -5 1/2
Opening Total: 47
Current Total: 44
Opening Money Line: MSU -210 / Notre Dame +180
Current Money Line: MSU -210 / Notre Dame +180

Michigan St is a 5.5 point favorite at home against Notre Dame Saturday night.

#20 Notre Dame and #10 Michigan St meet for the 76th time Saturday in East Lansing. The series dates back to 1897. Notre Dame leads the series 46-28-1, including 18-15-1 in East Lansing. Despite losing their last two times at Spartan Stadium, Notre Dame has won 15 of the last 20 times at Michigan St. After a 5 game winning streak by Michigan St, the teams have split the last 10 meetings. The Fighting Irish won last year 31-13 in South Bend. This is the first time since 2005 that both teams are undefeated at the time of their meeting.

Notre Dame is coached by Brian Kelly. The Fighting Irish are 2-0 this season with wins over Navy 50-10 in Dublin, Ireland and 20-17 at home over Purdue last week. Notre Dame is averaging 433 yards per game including 260.5 passing yards, and 172.5 rushing yards per game. The Fighting Irish are giving up 313.5 yards per game, including 195 passing yards and 119.5 rushing yards per game. Notre Dame is outscoring opponents 35-13.5 this season. The Irish are 1-1 ATS and the total is also 1-1 this season.

Notre Dame was a 14 point favorite at home last week against Purdue and the total was 53. Neither team scored until their was 3:45 left in the second quarter. Notre Dame scored a touchdown and Purdue matched it just before halftime to make it 7-7. The Irish scored 10 points in the third quarter to take a 17-7 lead. Purdue scored 10 points in the fourth quarter including the game tying touchdown with 2:12 left. Kelly brought in last year’s quarterback Tommy Rees who had been suspended for the Navy game after an off-season arrest. Everett Golson had started both games this season. Kelly compared Rees to a closer in baseball and that Golson will continue to be the starter barring injury. Golson is probable with a thumb injury against Michigan St. Rees led the Irish on a drive that culminated with the game winning 27 yard field goal with 7 seconds left. He was 3 for 8 passing for 38 yards.

Notre Dame had 376 total yards against Purdue including 324 passing yards. Golson threw for 289 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for a touchdown. Rees Purdue had 288 total yards, including 198 passing yards. Both teams had 8 penalties. The Boilermakers had 2 turnovers and the Irish had one.

Through two games, Golson has completed 33 of 49 passes for 433 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. He has been sacked 6 times this season and has the one rushing touchdown. Running back Theo Riddick has 34 carries for 160 yards with 2 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 69 yards. George Atkinson III has 10 carries for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running back Cierre Wood was the leading rusher last year, and returns after a two game suspension. Tight end Tyler Eifert has 8 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. DeVaris Daniels has 6 catches for 119 yards. T.J. Jones has 5 catches for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Michigan St is coached by Mark Dantonio. The Spartans are 2-0 with wins at home against Boise St 17-13 and at Central Michigan 41-7. Michigan St is averaging 478 yards per game, including 285 passing yards and 193 rushing yards. The Spartans are giving up 225.5 yards per game which is #7 nationally. MSU is allowing 171 passing yards and 54.5 rushing yards, which is 9th nationally. The Spartans are outscoring teams 29-10 so far this season. Michigan St is 1-1 ATS and the total is 0-1-1 this season.

Michigan St was an 18 point favorite at Central Michigan last week, and the total was 48. The game was never in doubt as the Spartans scored the first 41 points of the game. Central Michigan didn’t score until late in the game when they intercepted a Michigan St pass and ran it back 55 yards for a touchdown. It didn’t affect the spread but it did result in a push on the 48  point total as the Spartans won 41-7. Spartan kicker Dan Conroy missed a 39 yard field goal in the first quarter.

The Spartans had 495 total yards including 322 passing yards. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell completed 20 of 31 passes for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns. Le’Veon Bell had 18 carries for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bennie Fowler had 8 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. CMU had 245 total yards including just 72 rushing yards. Michigan St had 6 penalties and the one turnover that resulted in the pick six. Central Michigan had no penalties but had 3 turnovers.

Maxwell has completed 42 of 69 passes for 523 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Bell has 62 catches for 280 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 7 catches for 55 yards. Fowler has 10 catches 135 yards and a touchdown. Dion Sims has 10 catches, 113 yards and a touchdown.

Notre Dame is 3-1-1 ATS after rushing for less than 100 yards, 3-7 against Big Ten teams, 2-5 in road games, 3-10 in September, 1-4 overall, and on grass, 1-5 in road games against teams with winning home records, and after a straight up win, 0-5 against teams with winning records, and 0-4 in non-conference games.

Michigan St is 6-0 ATS after allowing 20 points or less, 5-0 after a straight up win, 4-0 after a cover, 6-1 after allowing 100 rushing yards or less, and overall, 5-1 after allowing 275 total yards, 13-3 against teams with winning records, 4-1 after passing for more than 280 yards, 3-1-1 after scoring more than 40 points, 6-2 on grass, and 5-2 at home.

Notre Dame is looking for their first 3-0 start since 2002, but to do that they will have to break their losing streak against top ten teams. The Fighting Irish haven’t beaten a top ten team since they beat Michigan in 2005. They are 2-11 on the road in the last 16 seasons against top 10 teams. Nine of the last twelve games in this series have been decided by 7 points or loss. I think that trend continues with Michigan St coming out on top.

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