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Both teams got off to respectable starts last weekend and have their eyes set on this weekend's matchup. Tommy Rees may have been the biggest surprise for Notre Dame as he threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns against Temple. It should also be noted that Rees led the team in passing in last year's matchup when he went 8-for-11 for 11 yards even though he wasn't the starter. Currently Michigan is a -3.5 point home favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook with a total of 52.
Michigan did what was expected of them in a 59-9 win over Central Michigan. QB Devin Gardner wasn't amazing by any means, but his big plays outweighed the two interceptions he threw for the most part. Denard Robinson tossed four picks in last year's matchup with ND and turnovers could easily decide the result in this year's game.
Michigan has covered in five of the last seven meetings, including three straight at home. Last year was a dog fight with the Fighting Irish winning 13-6. Neither team could get anything going on either side of the ball. Gardner was actually Michigan's leading wide receiver in that game and he's now the team's quarterback. Expect both teams to try and win the ground game, and after last week's showing Notre Dame may have the edge in passing. Can Rees continue his play over a ranked opponent?
Many doubted Rees before the season started, but he definitely has his shining moments, although that's only about 50 percent of the time. The Irish used a three-pronged rushing attack last week and it worked pretty well with their top three rushers combining for 167 yards. TJ Jones led the team in receiving with six grabs for 138 yards. This will be a much harder task for the Wolverines defense after not getting challenged by the Chippewas.
The same can be said about Notre Dame's defense, but they were one of the best defenses in the country last year. It will be important for Gardner to keep his turnovers down, especially if this is anything like last year's game. Even with Gardner at the helm, this offense is still very similar to the offense Michigan had in 2012 with Robinson. Surely, they'll score more than six points at home this year.
The Fighting Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games and also 4-1 ATS in their last five against the Big Ten. The numbers aren't as nice for the Wolverines as they are 8-21-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and only 1-5 ATS in their last six games following an ATS win. Every single number points to the under for Notre Dame because of its defense, but the over has hit in four straight games for Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Expect more points than last year's matchup, but it will likely come down to the fourth quarter and what quarterback takes control of the game. Right now, you could make a case for either guy.
In the 3 meetings previous to last seasons game, the Wolverines won all 3 by 4 points and all 3 of those games saw total points scored by both teams of 22 or more. So, traditionally, this is a game with some points scored. Still, this Notre Dame defense, with the exception of their blow out loss to Alabama in the BCS game, was exceptional last year and returns 8 to that unit. That, combined with Rees' play last week has us leaning towards the Irish here getting +3.5 in a game they could very will win. Our score prediction model, using last years stats, has Notre Dame on top 17-15. If we use just the end of last seasons results, the model has Michigan on top 20-19. So, in both instances, the model favors Notre Dame +3.5 and Under 52
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