Notre Dame An Underdog At Michigan State Spartans

By: Michael Robinson | Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are making big news on and off the field as they visit the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday night.

The Don Best college football odds screen opened with Michigan State as 4-point favorites, but that has been bet up to 5½-6. The total is currently at 43½ and ABC will have the 8:00 p.m. (ET) national telecast from Spartan Stadium.

These teams play every year, but that could change in the future with Notre Dame just joining the ACC and the still independent Notre Dame football program guaranteeing five games a year against that conference.

The Irish (2-0 straight up, 1-1 against the spread) are ranked No. 19 in the AP Poll and No. 20 in the Coaches, but the Don Best Linemakers Poll feels more strongly about them at No. 13. That’s despite a closer than expected 20-17 victory over Purdue last week as 14-point favorites.

Junior quarterback Tommy Rees led the game-winning field goal drive after coming in with 2:12 remaining in the fourth quarter. Redshirt freshman Everett Golson was the starter, going 21-of-31 for 289 yards, but was replaced after being banged up with a thumb injury. He’s listed as probable on the Don Best injury report.

Coach Brian Kelly has continued to say that Golson is his starter, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rees get some time and that means the Michigan State defense has to prepare for both. The Irish need to do a better job in pass protection no matter who is the signal caller, allowing five sacks last week.

One player definitely in the lineup this week is running back Cierre Wood. He rushed for over 1,100 yards last year, but was suspended the first two games this season for a rules violation. Wood should be a major upgrade after the team rushed for just 52 total yards against Purdue.

The Spartans (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) are ranked No. 10 in the AP and Coaches Poll, plus No. 11 by Don Best. They got tested in Week 1 of the season with a 17-13 comeback home win over ranked Boise State before a 41-7 blowout at Central Michigan last week.

Running back Le’Veon Bell continues to be a man among boys, rushing for two TDs last week to give him four for the season. He only had 18 carries versus a huge 44 against Boise State, so he should be fresh this Saturday.

Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns last week, plus no interceptions. He had three picks against Boise State which really brought his ability to replace the departed Kirk Cousins into question. Getting Maxwell’s confidence up against the MAC school was very important heading into Notre Dame.

The underrated Spartans defense is the biggest reason why this spread has moved in their direction. They rank No. 8 in the nation in total defense (225.5 YPG) and should fare well against Notre Dame even if they do fear the quickness and athletic ability of Golson.

The road team is 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings between the teams, although splitting the last four. Notre Dame won 31-13 as 6-point home favorites last year, winning the rushing battle 114-29. That won’t come close to happening on Saturday even with Wood back.

The ‘over’ is 6-2 in the last eight matchups.

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