NCAA Football Free Picks: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Michigan State Spartans

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(1-1, 0-2 ATS)

Michigan State Spartans
(2-0, 1-1 ATS)

In nine of the last 13 meetings between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Michigan State Spartans, the road team has beaten the NCAA football odds. The Irish will look to extend that on Saturday night in East Lansing.

The key for the Fighting Irish in this game and for the rest of the season is going to be getting some confidence in the right arm of QB Dayne Crist. The new starting QB for this team clearly has the talent to do some real damage in South Bend. He has thrown for an average of 9.45 yards per attempt, is completing 62.7 percent of his passes, and has a TD/INT ratio of 3/1. Still, 482 yards in two relatively offensive games is a bit low for a man that has some fantastic targets to try to throw the pigskin to. The combination of TE Kyle Rudolph and WR Michael Floyd is catching plenty of passes this year. They have pulled down a total of 23 catches for 355 yards. However, just one TD between them has to be an area of concern for HC Brian Kelly. Getting RB Armando Allen into the end zone would help as well, as he has 182 rushing yards, but just one score.

As seems to be the case every single season, the Spartans are off to a good start, and many in East Lansing wonder if this will be the year that they challenge for a spot in the Rose Bowl. We have some bad news for Sparty… This offense that it is going against is nothing like that of the Florida Atlantic Owls and the Western Michigan Broncos. Bottom line: Allowing 247.0 passing yards per game to teams like that is going to set up for a ton of pain for the East Lansing faithful, so look for a scoring average of 15.5 points per game to be shooting through the roof starting this week. The offense has found a way to put 34.0 points per game on the board, but the passing numbers aren’t particularly pretty. QB Kirk Cousins is only completing 57.9 percent of his passes for 328 yards and two scores against a pick. The real offense has come in the rushing game. RB Edwin Baker already has 300 yards on the ground this year on just 32 carries, while backup RB Le’Veon Bell has 190 yards on 20 rushes. It’s amazing to think that this team is averaging over nine yards per carry this year and has found pay dirt six times in just two games.

The Spartans can run the pill, that’s for certain. The issue is going to be finding a way to stop Notre Dame’s offense and generating some sort of a passing attack. This is always a bit of a classic series, as seven of the L/10 have finished within a TD. We expect this to be touch and go the whole way, and we don’t think that either team will open up a huge lead at any point. That being said, this game is a tossup, and when you’re in that type of a situation, taking the points and the better head coach is a good idea.

Selection: Notre Dame Fighting Irish +3.5

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