A year ago, these teams were in a slightly different situation. Both Michigan State and Notre Dame came into this meeting ranked as Top 20 schools and then went on to finish with losing records. While they have looked improved in early Games, there’s still no telling how each campaign will turn out for both sides. For now, it looks like there’s more faith in Notre Dame as the Fighting Irish were -3.5 point road favorites early in the week at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
While both teams were terrible last year, Michigan State was considered a good team after winning this meeting last year. The Spartans dominated most of the way, leading 36-14 heading into the Fourth quarter. And yet, the Irish are getting more love in the spread, even with this Game being in East LAnsing. MSU ran through the Irish en route to 260 rushing yards and a few touchdowns and now have a slightly more mobile QB in Brian Lewerke. Notre Dame got most of its points in garbage time in that Game with the damage coming through the air and that may be how the Irish attack again. The Irish ran for just 2.3 yards per carry and MSU’s rush defense has been similarly dominant against weaker competition so far.
Notre Dame has been hit-or-miss in the first three Games, getting past Temple and Boston College almost too easily, while barely falling at home to Georgia. The Irish ran for a ridiculous 937 yards in their two wins, but just 55 in the loss to the Bulldogs. They’ve either been extremely dominant or extremely bad. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush hasn’t looked too great, completing 50.5 percent of his passes to go with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. If the rushing attack has similar problems to that of the Georgia Game, then Notre Dame could have trouble scoring again. Josh Adams and Wimbush have been a great duo, but they still haven’t put up good numbers against a decent defense.
As for Michigan State’s offense, they’ll want to run the ball as much as possible, as well. The Spartans use a trio of backs led by LJ SCott to go with Lewerke, who actually leads the team in rushing due to a 61-yard rushing touchdown. Lewerke has been a slightly better passer (64.8% completion) than Wimbush so that could come into play if this is a close Game at the end.
The Irish have looked good in their wins, but had no answers against Georgia in a defensive-heavy contest. That could be the case here, but being favored in a night Game on the road is a big task. The Irish actually opened as bigger favorites and that number shot down a bit so there was some early money on the Spartans and it could keep coming in if this number doesn’t go below three.
The Spartans handled their early competition and are coming off a bye week. Taking the Irish will require a lot of confidence in Wimbush or the Irish’s defense. Neither of those things can be relied upon so MSU will be the easier team to back as home dogs under the lights.
Our Pick – The jury is obviously still out on both of these teams. The Irish return more faces than the Spartans this year and while we would typically side with the home dog in this great atmosphere (night Game, national tv etc) we think the Irish may be in better shape telent wise. We’ll call for some Notre Dame revenge here. Notre Dame -3