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Notre Dame

vs.

Michigan State

9/15/12

Michigan State hosts the fighting Irish of Notre Dame this week in East Lansing in what will be the first game of the 2012 college football season for both teams. Betonline is the first sportsbook to post lines each week and they posted the Spartans as -2.5 point favorites. That -2.5 lasted less than a minute as it jumped to -3.5 and then -4, which is where the rest of the books opened. It's continued to move in favor of Michigan State as both 5 Dimes and SBG Global now sit at -5. A whopping 93% of the early betting action at the largest sportsbook in the world, Sportsbook.ag, is on Michigan State, according to their posted betting trends.

Here's what you need to know: the home team has won the past four games. In addition, this one will be a night game at Spartan Stadium. The last night game Michigan State won at home was their season opener against Boise State, 17-13. Last season they took down No.4 Wisconsin 37-31. In their last home night game against the Fighting Irish back in 2010, they won 34-31.

Besides the Boise State game this year, Michigan State went to Central Michigan last weekend and won 41-7. The only points they gave up were a pick-six by their backup Freshman QB. MSU was favored by roughly 19 to 23 points throughout the week and managed an easy win against the spread.

Notre Dame started their season off with a powerful 50-10 win in Dublin, Ireland against Navy. However, it looked like they were jet-lagged last weekend as they needed a last second field goal to take out Purdue, 20-17.

Coming into this game, Michigan State now sits as the No. 10 ranked team and Notre Dame the 20th ranked team in the most recent AP Top 25 polls.

Last year when they faced off, the Irish destroyed the Spartans at Notre Dame Stadium, winning 31-13, beating out the line of six points. Each team has lost key offensive weapons from last year which could make this game more of a defensive battle. Michigan State running back, and Heisman hopeful, LeVeon Bell is the only notable returning offensive returnee for them while Notre Dame is led by Tommy Rees and Everett Golson at QB. Rees was suspended for Notre Dame's first game and came in to lead the game-winning drive as Golson didn't look well under the pressure. Nevertheless, Brian Kelly has said that Golson will still be the starting quarterback.

With a young QB in Andrew Maxwell, the Spartan rushing game has been a key for their offense to succeed. The 6'2, 244 pound Bell already has 62 carries for 280 yards and four TDs on the season. So far, Notre Dame has kept each offense they've played in check. They allowed 149 yards rushing to Navy, but on 3.7 yards per carry, while they gave up just 90 ground yards to the Boilermakers. Maxwell had a better second start against the Chippewas throwing for 275 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. That's big as he threw three interceptions against Boise State. The Irish have three interceptions in their first two games so that will be something to watch.

Bennie Fowler is Maxwell's main target grabbing 10 balls for 135 yards and a TD, but tight end Dion Sims has stepped up when needed also having 10 grabs for 113 yards and a TD.

Without Michael Floyd in the receiving game, there isn't a standout guy for the ND QBs to throw to. Tyler Eifert and DaVaris Daniels lead the team with 8 catches for 120 yards and one TD and six grabs for 119 yards, respectively. Running back Theo Riddick has done well when given the ball piling up 160 yards on 34 carries and two TDs, at a solid 4.7 YPC rate.

It will be a tough task for Golson and the Irish offense as Michigan State is believed by many, to have one of the best defenses in the country. There's reason to back this up as the Spartans defense has not allowed an offensive TD in their first two games. That is a telling stat and if Golson can't get things going, expect a Rees showing sooner rather than later.

Things won't be easy for the Spartans either as Notre Dame is allowing just 3.4 yards per carry through their first two games. If Maxwell finds trouble, expect another duel, much like the Boise State game.

Still, history says that as 3-point favorites, Michigan State has a very good chance at winning this one.

In eight of the last 10 matchups between these teams, the favorite has won covering six of those games. However, the favorite has only won once in the past three games. Most of those upsets, as said previously, going to the home team.

Bottom line? Well, we were high on Notre Dame coming into this season. Were we right? Is Purdue better than we expected? Doubtful. But perhaps Notre Dame overlooked the Boilermakers, combined with a little jet lag from their trip to the UK. 9 of the last 12 games in this series were decided by single digits, including 2009 and 2010 which were both field goal games. That tells us that not much separates these two programs. We'll take any points available in this one. Currently that would be +5 but watch the board. This number may continue to rise. 3* Key Release  Notre Dame +6 or better

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