In what is another highlight game on Saturday (there are a lot of them), Michigan State and Notre Dame reignite their rivalry in South Bend. Notre Dame is coming off a comfortable win over Nevada, following up nicely after Texas defeated them in Week 1. Michigan State is coming off a bye week. Pretty nice to have a bye already, especially right before the Notre Dame game. Actually, Michigan State is pretty well been on a bye week this entire season, as they opened up with Furman in Week 1. The Spartans were there physically, but mentally they looked like they were still on summer vacation. Michigan State won, but by a measly score of 28-13. Let’s be honest though, Mark Dantonio spent the offseason preparing for this game against the Fighting Irish, not Furman. With that said, I think we can tack on an extra couple weeks of preparation for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame didn’t have Michigan State in their sights this summer. It was all about playing well against Texas and opening with a win. All of their time and energy went into that game. After losing to the Longhorns, Notre Dame couldn’t lose against Nevada, so you have to think they spent a bit more time than they wanted to look at them for. In this sense, the Spartans are coming into this game with the coaching advantage. They survived against Furman and now all they need to do is beat Notre Dame to start getting national respect again. Winning on the road in South Bend is a little easier said than done, though. Texas is looking like a pretty good team this season, so that loss isn’t the worst they could have taken. Also Notre Dame took them to wire in overtime on the road in Austin. It isn’t anything to hang their heads over.
The Fighting Irish started the season going quarterback-by-committee, if you want to call it that. DeShone Kizer has emerged as the starter, though. Notre Dame’s offense has played some quality football, but Michigan State will be the first major test they have. Texas is an adequate defense, but the brunt of the Spartans’ success this season is going to come from their defense. And again, this goes back to the amount of time Michigan State has had to prepare for this game. I suspect Dantonio will write-up a pretty competent game plan for containing the Fighting Irish offense. This has been a hard fought series, but Notre Dame has beaten Michigan State the last three years. There was a two-year hiatus in this series, with the last game in 2013, which was a 17-13 win for Notre Dame. Back at it tonight in primetime.
Michigan State Spartans vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish NCAAF Betting Odds:
Michigan State +7.5(-115)
vs. Notre Dame -7.5(-105)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame Pick:
Connor Cook departed to the NFL this past offseason, so Michigan State has been looking elsewhere for quarterback production. The Spartans have typically reloaded at quarterback, going from Brian Hoyer, to Kirk Cousins, to Connor Cook. All three are currently in the NFL. Michigan State is looking at Tyler O’Connor to fill the void. O’Connor has had plenty of time to prepare as a starter, with him entering his fifth-year at Michigan State. He got limited action the last two seasons, passing for 2 touchdowns and an interception in each, playing in mop-up duty. He passed for 3 touchdowns and 1 interception against Furman.
Freshman Shane Buechele was able to play well in his first ever college football start, passing for 2 touchdowns with 280 yards. Texas punished Notre Dame on the ground all game long, ultimately rushing for 262 yards and 5 touchdowns. DeShone Kizer took the majority of the snaps at quarterback for Notre Dame, taking advantage of a porous Texas defense for 5 touchdowns through the air. Michigan State should once again have one of the best defenses in college football this season, so Kizer better have done his homework against the Spartans.
Notre Dame has been hobbled on defense, notably in the secondary. Three defensive backs, Devin Butler (suspension), Shaun Crawford (Achilles), and Nick Watkins (broken arm) are all out. The Spartans enter tonight healthy as can be. Give Dantonio this much time to prepare for Notre Dame, and I think they’re going to make the most of it Saturday night. I see Kizer struggling in this one, against a defense who is going to be prepared and ready to shut him down. Michigan State should be able to run the ball well enough to keep the contest close. Notre Dame wins this contest, but it should be a fight to the end, with Michigan State covering.