Notre Dame-Michigan State Point Spread Preview, Expert Picks, Score Prediction
It’s a battle of unbeatens Saturday in East Lansing, MI when Notre Dame (2-0) visits Michigan State (2-0). Each of these teams has one easy win over a relative cupcake and one close win vs. a better team, so who will come out on top?
We feel that whoever wins the line of scrimmage will win this contest. With Michigan State’s defense getting most of the notoriety, the Spartans could be an overlay here at -6. The posted total is understandably low, at 42.
1. Why Notre Dame will cover the spread: There are two keys to Notre Dame covering this spread. First, they have to slow down Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell, who rushed for 210 yards and scored both MSU touchdowns in a 17-13 escape over Boise State opening week, and then added 70 yards and two touchdowns in limited duty during a 41-7 demolition of Central Michigan. Notre Dame may not care, as the Irish are allowing only 3.4 yards per rush, and they even shut down Navy’s wishbone attack opening week. A second key is freshman quarterback Everett Golson making some big plays with his feet. The Spartans have one of the best defenses in the country, but mobile quarterbacks with running back speed can drive anyone nuts and Golson fits that mold. Furthermore, he passed for 289 yards vs. Purdue, meaning Sparty has to respect his passing and can’t simply game plan to defend him as a running quarterback.
2. Why Michigan State will cover the spread: The key to Michigan State covering the spread is new starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell proving he is capable of having a performance like last week vs. Central Michigan against a more formidable defense. Maxwell completed 20-of-31 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns without a pick after struggling and throwing three interceptions vs. the more formidable Boise State defense in the opener. If Maxwell succeeds, it would stop Notre Dame from simply focusing on Bell and would thus open things up for the running game.
3. Total Talk: We are not expecting a shootout by any means. While the Michigan State defense is getting most of the attention, the Notre Dame defense is much improved and we feel that the Irish front seven will at least contain Bell, putting Maxwell in third and long situations. The jury is still out on whether the junior can get it done vs. a quality defense, but we expect him to struggle. We do expect Golson to make some big plays, in fact enough plays to allow Notre Dame to spring the upset, but it is not as if the Irish will light up the scoreboard. However, that is incorporated into this low total of 42, which as you see is right in line with what we expect, so we are passing on the total at the current number.
4. Betting Trends for the game: The road teams are now 9-2 in the last 11 head-to-head meetings between these teams. Also, the ‘under’ is 5-0 the last five times Notre Dame has faced a team with a winning record, as well as 4-0 the last four times that Michigan State won its previous game by more than 20 points.
Notre Dame 23 – Michigan State 20