The Notre Dame Fighting Irish began a season ranked for the first time since 2006, and were promptly upset 23-20 by the South Florida Bulls in a game that USF led 23-7 in the fourth quarter.
Michigan, made Brady Hoke’s coaching debut a winning one by beating Western Michigan 34-10 in a game halted in the third quarter due to lightning,
The oddsmakers were apparently unimpressed, as the have installed Notre Dame as (-3½) road favorites here with the total set at 55½.
1. Why Notre Dame will cover the spread: The Irish need to protect the ball better, as they accumulated 508 total yards vs. the Bulls, but were done in by five turnovers. After starting quarterback Dayne Crist was mostly ineffective in the first half, Tommy Rees completed 24-of-34 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns in the second half alone.
If Rees starts here and can duplicate that performance in the “Big House”, minus the two interceptions of course, then the Irish should score enough points for the road win. Notre Dame’s defense was overlooked a bit last week, but the Irish allowed only 254 total yards and one offensive touchdown, and a repeat performance should quiet the big Michigan crowd.
2. Why Michigan will cover the spread: The Michigan defense was exposed a bit in the first half by the Broncos, and WMU quarterback Alex Carder did end up completing 22-of-31 passes for 183 yards in less than three quarters, but the game turned when the Michigan defense started bringing pressure on virtually every play in the second half. The Wolverines could have success blitzing often from the get-go here, as both Notre Dame quarterbacks have been prone to making mistakes when facing a lot of pressure.
Also, Michigan scored 34 points in less than three quarters last week without a typically electrifying game from quarterback Denard Robinson, who had 502 all-purpose yards in Michigan’s 28-24 win over Notre Dame in South Bend last year. If Robinson improves over last week’s performance, Michigan will be hard to beat at home.
3. Total Talk: All of that said, we do not see the Michigan defense making many stops in this game. The Irish accumulated over 500 yards vs. a very good South Florida defense, and while Michigan’s pressure may affect the Irish quarterbacks at first, once the Irish learn how to beat it, they can expose what still looks like a vulnerable Michigan secondary.
As long as the Irish do not shoot themselves in the foot again and protect the football, they should get into the 30s here. Michigan won this matchup the last two years by scores of 28-24 and 38-34, and we see another high scoring affair this year, only this time with Notre Dame putting up enough points to emerge victorious.
4. Betting Trends for the game: Michigan is 11-27 ATS in the last 38 games overall, including 8-16 ATS in the last 24 home games. Michigan is 2-6 ATS as a home underdog since 2008. Notre Dame is 10-6 ATS on the road since 2008, as well as 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games as a road favorite. However, the underdogs are 6-1 ATS in the last seven head-to-head meetings.
5. Michigan-Notre Dame Score Prediction: