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Notre Dame hosts Michigan Saturday night in a game that can be seen on NBC-TV at 7:30 pm est. Notre Dame opened as a -6.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes and the game was bet up to -7 initially before the Michigan money brought the number down to -5.5. If you take a glance at the betting trends at sportsbook.ag, the world largest sportsbook, you'll see that 75% of the early action is on Notre Dame. The line moving the opposite direction is usually a good indication of early sharp money on Michigan.
Notre Dame vs. Michigan is always big, but suddenly, this is a bigger game than usual for Notre Dame as they are now ranked No. 11 in the polls. If they can beat another ranked opponent, the National Championship talks will begin for them as they will more than likely move into the Top 10. Michigan on the other hand, has yet to get a season-defining win under the belts after getting scorched by Alabama in their opener, 41-14. Their two wins have come against Air Force and Massachusetts, although neither was super impressive if you were a Wolverines fan.
Michigan barely beat Air Force at home 31-25, almost losing it in the end. Most recently, while they did score 63 points, the Wolverines gave up 13 points to a UMass team that was unable to score against Connecticut and scored six points against Indiana. The Hoosiers just allowed 41 points to Ball State if that says anything about them.
If the Michigan defense doesn't show up in Notre Dame, it could be a long day for them as Everett Golson and company are coming off a road win at Michigan State. While Golson was only 14-for-32 in that game, he made several key plays to keep drives alive for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame may have only beat Purdue 20-17 a couple weeks ago, but this past weekend on the road shows how good of a team they can be, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Andrew Maxwell isn't Denard Robinson by any means, but Notre Dame also contained one of the best rushers in the country, Le'Veon Bell, to just 77 yards and no TDs. Robinson will have to have his best game of the early season for Michigan to have a shot in this one. This means no interceptions for Shoelaces. Through three games, even though Robinson has 10 total TDs, he still has thrown four picks. In addition, Robinson has thrown for 699 yards and leads the team in rushing by far with 351 yards. Linebacker Manti Te'o and the Irish defense will make it a major focus to stop Robinson from doing anything, most likely taking a page from Alabama's playbook when Robinson was held to just 27 yards on the ground. It can be done.
Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint looked good against UMass, but that's not saying much. He will need to find some holes so Robinson doesn't have to take all of the beating on the ground. Devin Gardner, former QB turned WR leads the team with 155 receiving yards and three TDs. He's one of the four Wolverine WRs that has at least one reception longer than 30 yards.
Compared to Michigan, Notre Dame runs a much more balanced offense with Golson under center. Five of his receivers have at least six grabs and no more than nine, and they all have between 85 and 120 receiving yards. The running game goes through a few players. Theo Riddick has led the team so far with 190 yards, but Cierre Wood returned last game and will be a boost to the backfield along with George Atkinson III.
In last year's game, Michigan prevailed 35-31 after Notre Dame jumped to a huge lead. The team's play a lot different from a year ago though. Most notably, Notre Dame's defense has improved greatly so the 446 total yards and five TDs from Robinson won't come as easy in this one.
It's important to note that unless we designate a play as a Key Release, it's simply our best opinion, at the time the article is written (in this case, Tuesday morning). So it's always worth checking back on Friday night, or Saturday morning. Things can change. In this spot, we're going to side with Notre Dame. It's far from a strong play. Remember, the Irish barely got by Purdue, at home, a couple weeks ago and while Michigan was whacked by Alabama and squeaked by Air Force, this is still a mostly intact Wolverine team that won 11 games last year.
Expect a wild game. That's always the case when these two tangle. Michigan won the last 3, all by 4 points, a good indication of how close these two are as far as talent. Watch the line here as it may drop and we'd obviously like to lay as little as possible. Notre Dame has a triple revenge motive - they get it. Notre Dame -5.5 or better
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