Pick – Analysis
After two straight road Games against Big Ten opponents, the Fighting Irish will be glad to be back on their home field for the next couple Games. Michigan State has coasted through less than average competition in its first three Games, and will now face its first true test of the season. Notre Dame is currently a -7 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Notre Dame has won two straight Games in this series, dominating by a total Scoreadvantage of 51-16. Many label the Spartans as one of the best defenses in the nation, stifling their first three opponents. Can they do the same against a bigger school? The Irish have had the edge in this matchup, but they haven’t surpassed 300 total yards in their past two wins. As for Notre Dame’s defense, they haven’t exactly been as great in 2013, currently giving up close to 25 points per Game. However, Michigan State’s offense is a huge question mark.
MSU could do absolutely nothing on offense in its first two Games against lowly Western Michigan and South Florida. It went back and forth between two quarterbacks in both Games and without Le’Veon Bell on the ground, the offense had trouble moving the ball. Things looked a lot better last weekend as the Spartans scored 55 points, led by Connor Cook, who threw Four TD passes. Of course, that Game was against Youngstown State. In last year’s meeting against ND, the Spartans scored a measly three points. Andrew Maxwell tossed for 187 yards on 23-for-45 passing and Bell rushed for 77 yards. With a new QB and RB, the only place they can go is up. If MSU can build on last week’s performance, they might have a chance in this one.
Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t looked impenetrable yet, so the opportunity is there. Even Purdue was able to put 24 points on the Fighting Irish, with three TDs through the air. With all that said, the home team still has the advantage in this matchup.
On the offensive end for ND, Tommy Rees has his work cut out for him. The Spartans can do it all, whether it’s rushing the passer or stepping up in the secondary. No one has had much success against them in the past couple seasons for good reason. The Irish will have to establish some sort of run or Rees could be in for a long day. In last year’s Game, Everett Golson completed just 14-of-32 passes, but they did rush for 122 yards as a team, which is a main reason they were able to win. Receivers DaVaris Daniels and TJ Jones will get most of the looks out wide with the two totaling 36 receptions for 588 yards and five TDs this season.
The Spartans haven’t even played on the road yet this year, but they are an astounding 8-1 ATS in their last nine road Games, even with last year’s disappointing season. But then again, they are just 2-9 ATS in their last 11 Games on grass. The Fighting Irish are only 1-5 ATS in their last six home Games. Michigan State is 7-1 ATS in the last eight Games at Notre Dame (however, that non-cover was in 2011) and the road team is an incredible 11-2 ATS in the last 13 matchups.
We can’t give a prediction on thos one as we are still considering using one of these sides as a Key Release this week.