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Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

Pointspread: Michigan State -3

9/18/10

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Brian Kelly finally lost a regular season game. He had won 19 straight dating back to his tenure with the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Notre Dame HC rallied the troops to a late comeback attempt that fell short against Michigan last week. They fell 28-24. This week they will take on the Michigan State Spartans in a primetime Saturday night road game. The Spartans started the year with less than overpowering victories over Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic. It will be interesting to see how HC's Kelly and Dantonio fare against one another. Both coached some of the same players at Cincinnati in the past several years.

Michigan State opened up as a -2.5 home favorite and the early money came in on the Spartans to where the current line is Michigan State -3. As of this writing early Monday, there is no total posted. You can check the odds mid week when sportsbooks post the totals on all the college games. We'd expect a high total here.

Notre Dame took last year's meeting in a close 33-30 event. Michigan State turned the ball over while driving in the last minute of the game. The Spartans were 2-2 ATS against non conference foes last year. Overall they finished 4-7-1 ATS. The Fighting Irish finished 2009 4-8 ATS and 0-2 as road favorites. Coach Brian Kelly was 3-2 ATS as a road favorite last year with Cincinnati. There isn't very strong data supporting either team ATS.

Michigan State benefited heavily against Florida Atlantic from the crazy good game played by RB Edwin Baker. The sophomore had 183 yards on 15 carries and 1 TD. He averaged a whopping 12.2 yards per carry with a long run of 80 yards. QB Kirk Cousins had a TD and INT while connecting on 9 of 17 attempts for 142 yards. Freshman Le'Veon Bell was also effective pounding the rock for the Spartans. He had 49 yards on 10 carries and a TD. The offense for this team looks very solid on the whole. The offensive line can keep Cousins safe, and the WRs seem to have gained a grip on their bad habit of dropping passes. They will create problems for a suspect Notre Dame defense.

Notre Dame's offense was hot and cold against Michigan. QB Dayne Crist played very well, but missed most of the first half after hurting himself pushing the pile for a TD. His backups weren't very effective. Both of them tossed an INT. When Crist returned to the game the Fighting Irish resurged and damn near won the game. If he had played the whole game the outcome may have been different. One of the biggest things Notre Dame has to do this week and prevent turnovers. They gave Michigan 3 INTs total last week. This shouldn't be a problem with Crist manning the helm for the entire game.

The Fighting Irish have an excellent TE in Kyle Rudolph. The Cincinnati, OH native is a tough matchup for any defense. He can catch passes and is a home run threat as he proved burning Michigan for over 80 yards on one catch last week. Crist also has a strong weapon in WR Michael Floyd. The junior is quite a playmaker as he proved by grabbing 9 TDs in 2009.

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Notre Dame's defense could have problems in this game. They had no answer for Denard Robinson last week. This week they will face another good rusher in Edwin Baker. HC Kelly is excellent at making adjustments and will make the changes necessary to get better against the run, but he doesn't have the personnel to run a top defense. They will have to outscore Michigan State to win this game.

The Michigan State defense isn't overwhelming on the defensive line. However, they do have a great LB corps. They are easily one of the top 10 best LB groups in the country. They will have pressure on Crist the entire game. The secondary doesn't grab a lot of INTs.

These two teams are in a similar spot. Both teams averaged 30 points per game a year ago and gave up 26 on average. We felt the Irish defense would be vastly improved this year but after last week were not so sure. Tough to gauge Michigan State in off two weak opponents, but one thing likely hasn't changed for either of these teams. Specifically, the offense. Though Notre Dames point production is down from last year, both of these programs can move the ball.

A look at the last decades worth of games between Michigan State and Notre Dame shows us that 8 out of the 10 games were close games decided by a touchdown or less that could have gone either way. We'll call for more of the same here. While Michigan State will be looking to avenge last years 33-30 loss, we're going to call for Irish coach Brian Kelly to notch his first big road win as he steers the Irish back on track after last weeks loss to Michigan. Notre Dame +3

 

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