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Michigan State vs. Notre Dame Betting Preview with Free Pick

9/17/11

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and coach Brian Kelly are off to an 0-2 start and now have their backs against the wall as they host Michigan State Saturday at 3:30 pm est. The Irish opened as a -5.5 favorite and some Michigan State money has brought the line down to -5 and -4.5 with a total of 51. Michigan State comes in 2-0 and ranked 15th in the nation and is fresh off an 11-2 season a year ago.

So, what do we know about Michigan State? Well, if we're to base our opinion strictly on their first two games, not much, as those wins came against Youngstown State and Florida Atlantic. But we can take a look back to last season, their 11-2 campaign. 11-2 is nice, but doesn't put them in the "upper class". If you look at last years results you'll notice the two losses came against the two best teams they faced, a 49-9 drubbing at the hands of Alabama in the Capital One Bowl and a 37-6 loss to Iowa. They did knock off Wisconsin 34-24 but for the most part, the rest of their dance card was soft.

The Spartans won close games last year against Notre Dame, Northwestern, Purdue and Penn State. Basically, middle, to lower middle class teams. Sprinkle in a few wins against the lower class, like Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic, and there's your 11-2 Michigan State season. The schedule was what it was. Not their fault. They beat the teams put in front of them. But don't mistake the 2010 Spartans for a powerhouse. They weren't.

Notre Dame is reeling. They have problems they need to fix ASAP or things are going to get tough for Brian Kelly. Notre Dame is last in the nation in turnovers and close to last in penalties. Those are two of the most elementary football statistics that there are. Do well in those two categories and you'll likely win football games. Rank last, or close to last, and you'll likely not win very many games.

Notre Dame led Michigan 24-7 last week and gave up four 4th quarter touchdowns. The turnovers, the penalties and the 4th quarter collapse all comes back to coaching. All of this needs to be addressed immediately. Kelly called out the entire team, coaching staff and all, in his post game press conference. Now let's see if he can take care of business this week.

With Michigan State, we don't know exactly what we have based off their first two games but we have a pretty good idea. They return 6 starters on both sides of the ball and will likely be just like last years team. A good, middle to upper middle class team that can compete with most of what the Big 10 has to offer, but likely is not one of the top teams in the nation.

The talent of these two teams is likely very even. Notre Dame is obviously the more desperate of the two and has their backs against the wall. But, is there another team in college football with more close finishes, year after year, than the fighting Irish? Seems like every time you flip a Notre Dame game on in the 4th quarter, the game is being decided as the clock expires.

With that in mind, and with Michigan State playing so many close games of their own last year, we'll call for yet another thrilling Notre Dame finish. We're simply not interested in getting involved with backing Notre Dame until they fix the problems they have. We'll take Michigan State +5 here.

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