Notre Dame faces Michigan State on Saturday evening. (Getty)
12 Michigan State takes on 18 Notre Dame in its first true test of the season. According to OddsShark, Notre Dame is favored by 7.5 points. The over-under is set at 50 points.
After rotating quarterbacks in the opener against Texas, DeShone Kizer appears to have won the starting position for Notre Dame over Malik Zaire. Kizer is aided by a dynamic duo at running back of Josh Adams and Tarean Folston.
The running backs will face a challenging Michigan State defensive line. The Spartans get talented linebacker Ed Davis back for the game, but it is unclear how much he will play against the Irish.
The OddsShark computer projects Notre Dame to pull out a close 30.8-28.2 victory. The computer is taking Michigan State against the spread and the over on the point total.
According to College Football Study Hall, the S&P+ computers are also projecting a narrow Notre Dame victory of less than 5 points.
With the stability at quarterback, Heavy likes Notre Dame to win the game, but the Michigan State defense will keep them in the contest. Look for the Irish to come away with a win in a close one. Heavy is taking the points in this one as the Spartans hang around to keep it interesting.
Heavy’s Pick: Notre Dame 23 Michigan State 20. Michigan State +7.5. Under on the Point Total.
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Clearly, it is time for change at Michigan State.
The Spartans have to change the way they are coaching.
They have to change the way they teach discipline.
They have to change the way they teach ball security.
“Change our approach? Maybe. Because what we are doing is not working,” MSU co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner admitted late Saturday night, after the Spartans committed three turnovers in a 38-18 loss against Notre Dame. “We are doing what we have been doing, for years and years around here. Protecting the football. It’s not taking place right now. We’ll evaluate it, look at it and see if there are some new ways to go about emphasizing it.”
The Spartans had three turnovers that Notre Dame turned into three touchdowns.
What a disaster.
A self-inflicted horror show.
“We talk ball security, we work ball security every single day, seven minutes a day in drills,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio said.
Call me crazy, but maybe they should up it to, maybe, eight minutes?
Because what they are doing isn’t working.
LJ Scott fumbled at the goal line on Saturday – his third fumble of the season and the second time he’s done it near the end zone.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke fumbled for the fourth time in three games, losing two of them.
Dantonio said those were examples of players trying to make plays, and he has a hard time yelling at somebody trying to make a play.
But the lack of ball security was befuddling to Warner.
“We could not have emphasized it more these last two weeks, but obviously we didn’t get it done,” Warner said.
This was a chance for MSU to prove it had moved past the misery of last season.
Instead, the Spartans (2-1) kept making mistakes. It was like watching somebody steer a ship into the rocks. Over and over and over.
Dantonio is fond of saying: “We need to find the inches.”
Well, they found the inches all right. Only they all went the wrong direction. This was a frustrating step backward for the Spartans, which is the direction they kept heading, after committing nine penalties for 97 yards.
“That’s more than we had the first two games combined, if I’m not mistaken,” MSU defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said.
Maybe, you will take some solace in MSU’s stats.
The Spartans beat the Irish in just about every statistical way, outgaining Notre Dame 496-355. MSU also controlled the clock.
But Dantonio would have none of it.
“Statistics can lie to you,” Dantonio said. “We had too many penalties. We didn’t contain the quarterback. Too many loose plays… Gotta get off the field on third down… Again, penalties. Critical penalties.”Share This Video
The game started with a 4½-minute disaster for MSU.
Notre Dame came out throwing on its first five plays, quickly moving into the red zone.
That, in itself, was somewhat surprising. Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush came into the game completing just 51.1 percent of his passes with just two TDs and two interceptions. But he had the Irish in scoring territory with his arm. And then he switched things up and scored on a QB draw, sprinting 16 yards for the TD.
But it got so much worse.
On MSU’s first possession, Lewerke telegraphed his throw and it turned into a pick-six for Julian Love, a sophomore cornerback, who jumped the route. Love returned it 59 yards for a touchdown, giving Notre Dame a 14-0 lead less than 5 minutes into the game.
“The interception, that wasn’t really me trying to make a play, that was just a bad decision on my part,” Lewerke said.
In the second quarter, Lewerke got flushed from the pocket and started to scramble. He didn’t protect the ball – a huge mistake – and coughed it up, his fourth fumble of the season.
“I tried reaching the ball over,” he said. “I was trying, too much, to make a play.”
Notre Dame took over on the MSU 24. Six plays later, Wimbush scrambled and threw an 8-yard TD, giving Notre Dame the 21-7 lead.
But it got so much worse.
It looked as if Scott had scored a TD, but he fumbled at the goal line.
Right before he crossed the goal line, he was stripped by Shaun Crawford. And the ball kicked in front of him. Scott took four steps and tried to catch up to that ball, as if he could get a second chance. But this was not a night of second chances.
He seemed to grab it, but the ball popped out again and Crawford fell on it.
Poof. Just like that, seven points disappeared for the Spartans.
“Ultimately, it’s the turnovers that crush you,” Dantonio said.
You think the Spartans would learn from their mistakes, but they kept making them.
Predictably, MSU tried several trick plays. But that didn’t work either.
MSU tried a flea flicker. But Lewerke didn’t have time to get set, throwing off his back foot, and he underthrew Felton Davis.
A double pass didn’t work, as MSU was called for a holding.
And once again, the Spartans went backward on their own doing.
You sensing a theme, here?
In the third quarter, with Notre Dame ahead by 17 points, MSU appeared to stop the Irish near midfield on a critical third-down play.
But MSU lined up offside. First down Notre Dame.
Notre Dame scored another touchdown, going up 35-10, before you could say “This team just keeps killing itself!”
Notre Dame deserves credit.
It was the Irish who was smart enough to read the quarterback’s eyes and jump a route.
It was the Irish who saw Lewerke holding the ball carelessly.
It was the Irish who didn’t give up, stripping Scott.
So give them credit.
The Irish took advantage of the Spartans mistakes.
And the Spartans kept making them. Unable to learn from their own mistakes.
What a disaster.
“We are not broken,” Dantonio said. “I think our football team is going to win a lot of football games. We have guys who can make plays.”
Maybe, they will.
But they won’t, if they don’t change something.
Contact Jeff Seidel: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.
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Matchup: Michigan State (2-0) vs. Notre Dame (0-2)
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Line: Notre Dame by five
All-time series record: Notre Dame 45-28-1
Despite poor play by Notre Dame against South Florida and Michigan, the Fighting Irish, looking to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2007, will undoubtedly be the most dangerous team No. 15 Michigan State has seen thus year.
Although the Spartans have outscored their previous two opponents, Youngstown State and Florida Atlantic, 72-6, nine of the last 11 matchups between Notre Dame and MSU have been decided by merely seven points.
Last year’s thriller in East Lansing came down to a last second fake field goal call by MSU head coach Mark Dantonio. As kicker Dan Conroy lined up for a 46-yard kick, the play called “Little Giants" caught the Notre Dame special teams sleeping and resulted in a game-winning touchdown to tight end Charlie Gantt instead.
Dantonio has gotten the better of the Irish during his tenure as head coach, going 3-1. However, the Spartans lost a huge contributor to their play-calling in former offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who is now head coach for Miami (Ohio).
This is crucial game for Irish head football coach Brian Kelley. If Notre Dame loses this game to MSU, then Kelly’s winning percentage thus far will be .500, putting the second-year coach on the hot seat.
Fifth-year senior Kirk Cousins has looked a spectacular this year. He has racked up 405 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions this year. Cousin has also been surgically precise, completing 79.1 percent of his passes.
Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees has amassed 611 yards and five touchdowns this season, but the sophomore has thrown four picks already this season. Rees is definitely a forced to be reckoned with. Turning the ball over will be difference between a close game and Spartan blowout.
MSU has two veteran receivers in B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin, who have combined for 303 yards and one touchdown. Cunningham became Michigan State’s all-time leader in receptions with 153, surpassing standout wide receiver Matt Trannon’s record of 149.
Notre Dame’s receiving core is headed by Michael Floyd and Theo Riddick. Floyd has 313 yards with two touchdowns this season, averaging 12.5 yards per reception. Riddick has contributed 94 yards and two touchdowns of his own as the No. 2 wide out. Tight end Tyler Eifert has also been a key component to the Irish’s strong receiving, generating 144 yards on 10 receptions.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Michigan State has four quality running backs, but the team has relied mainly on the three-headed monster of Edwin Baker, Le’Veon Bell and Larry Caper.
This season, the rushing attack has been all too ordinary. MSU’s rushing attack ranks 41st overall among all NCAA teams, averaging 173.5 yards a game.
The Notre Dame rushing attack consists of running tandem of Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray. Wood and Gray have combined for 315 yards and two touchdowns on 62 carries.
If MSU can get more productivity out of its tail backs, this could be the biggest disparity in the game.
The Spartans have only allowed six points in their previous two games. MSU limited FAU to a staggering 45 yards of total offense en route to its shutout victory. However, the Spartans haven’t had the kind that Notre Dame has seen of late.
But there is also no excuse for the lackluster performance of the Irish’s defense against Michigan last week. Notre Dame’s defense is ranked 51st against the run and 74th against the pass, and it looked like it as Michigan’s quarterback Denard Robinson drove 80 yards to steal the game with only 30 second left in regulation.
Michigan State had its fair share of gaffes in the first game against Youngstown State. Keshawn Johnson muffed a punt, which turned a three-and-out into a scoring drive for the Penguins.
Spartan kicker Dan Conroy, the Big Ten’s most accurate kicker last year, has missed two of his four field goal attempts this year.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Notre Dame will be the first test for Michigan State team, who have played a cupcake schedule up to this point. That being said, there are still a lot of questions yet to be answered by a team of Notre Dame’s caliber.
The Fighting Irish have a remarkable offense, but with the way that Notre Dame has been turning the ball over lately (five times each in its last two games), the team has literally been giving games away.
MSU has won six of the last seven meetings against Notre Dame. Make it seven of eight.
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Now that every SEC team has a game under its belt, oddsmakers have a better idea how to handicap them heading into Week 2.
The marquee game this week is Auburn’s visit to Clemson. The defending national champions are laying 7 points against Auburn and have won three in a row in this series, including a 19-13 decision on the Plains last year.
Auburn holds a 14-3 lead in head-to-head meetings, however.
Alabama welcomes Fresno State to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and is a 43-point favorite over the Bulldogs. The Crimson Tide have won 15 consecutive home openers, and Nick Saban is 29-1 at home against non-SEC foes.
TCU visits Fayetteville, Ark., to take on Arkansas and is a 1-point underdog. The Razorbacks clipped the Horned Frogs, 41-38, in overtime last season and hold a 31-3 edge in head-to-head meetings.
South Carolina and Missouri tangle in the Show Me State in an early-season SEC East clash. The oddsmakers are looking for a close game, tabbing the Tigers as a 3.5-point favorite. Missouri was 3-2 against the spread as a home favorite last season, while South Carolina was 1-4 ATS as road underdogs.
Georgia will make its first trip to South Bend, Ind., to face Notre Dame. There’s no line posted for this game yet, probably because the status of Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason is not yet known.
The only previous meeting between the schools was a 17-10 win for the Bulldogs in the 1981 Sugar Bowl.
Mississippi State travels to Ruston, La., to tangle with Louisiana Tech. Mississippi State is a 4-point favorite and will be looking to avenge a 22-14 road loss in 2008. Mississippi State was 0-2 against the spread as a road favorite last season.
Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, LSU and Florida all face FCS opposition Saturday. Those games are likely off the board until Friday.
Here’s a roundup of all of the Week 2 opening lines for the SEC as set at the Wynn Las Vegas on Sunday:
When the first betting lines for this weekend’s college football games were released, Notre Dame opened up as a surprisingly big six point favorite over #8/12 Michigan State (Coaches/AP) at home this weekend. The Irish, coming off a 29 point victory over Nevada in which they covered the pre-game spread of 28 come into the game ranked at least 10 spots lower than the Spartans.
By Monday, Notre Dame was up to a seven point and a half (7.5) favorite over Michigan State suggesting the early money was being placed Notre Dame.
Michigan State struggled in their season opening win over Furman limping to a 28-13 victory. That Spartans, a 2015 College Football Playoff team, held just an eight point lead until there was less than five remaining minutes. Still, being a seven point favorite over Michigan State comes as a bit of a surprise considering the Irish already have a notch in the loss column this year from opening weekend.
Notre Dame has won three straight over Michigan State and were the lower ranked team twice in that three game span. In 2012, the Irish beat the then 10th ranked Spartans in east Lansing 20-3 and in 2011 an unranked Irish team took down the 15th ranked Spartans 30-13 in Notre Dame Stadium after opening the 2011 season with back to back losses.
It will be interesting to see how the betting line on this one changes throughout the week. While we normally don’t talk much about gambling or point spreads here, the line movement usually gives a good indication of how bettors are placing their money.
For instance, a big six point opening spread suggests to me that Vegas was trying to make Michigan State an attractive betting option. Initially at least it doesn’t look like that has happened with the line moving to -7.5 for Notre Dame. It could mean nothing, but it could also mean that those in the know aren’t convinced that Michigan State’s struggles were just opening week jitters.
Michigan State’s early season bye is working in Notre Dame’s favor as well. While it is typically a disadvantage to face a big opponent off of their bye week, the Spartans likely started planning for Notre Dame well in advance of their early bye week. With such an early bye week though, the Spartans didn’t really get a chance to get into a groove following their week one contest either.
Following a lackluster performance against Furman, Michigan State probably would have preferred to have a game this weekend to get some of their new starters more work – including new starting quarterback Tyler O’Connor.
The betting line means very, very little in the end; but for now it is at least a positive sign that not only did Notre Dame open as the favorite, but the line continued to trend in their favor.You may also like 28 comments Cancel reply
Notre Dame is being led by the ultimate villain, the one that abandoned a team in Cincinnatti that fell apart after the heartbreaking stunt pulled by ND. Brian Jelly promised that team his devotion only to leave them right before their bowl game. And it was their first bowl game. Brian Kelly is bad for ND and ND is bad for the Catholic school image. After the recent scandal involving it’s players ND is now seen as the new ‘Canes. Win at all cost. Pick up players that are among the best in the country. Never mind their character. The Navy and Army team has more solid character in each of them despite having no blue chip players. They win on character. ND wins with thugs. With ND owning NBC as a booster and having all the premier players (albeit all the thugs) get to cherry pick their opponents. Now, ND rests on its fame as a football legend, not on their Catholic values. ND after all has sold itself to the Devil.
I hear that there is a bowl game on Omaha die this pitiful team. They are awful! Could be the last year for BK. Can only hope.
And yet here you are posting about it.
The hate for the best qb Notre Dame has had in decades. Just sad. It’s called being a leader. Frankly, I don’t even know what to say about that criticism.
Saw some really positive play out of T. Coney. He was flying around making plays. Hope he can continue to make plays and stay healthy. However, very disappointed in the interior line play. Getting blown off the line. Expected much better play on the interior.
I think we need to eliminate the penalties (almost 100 yards in the first half). If we make even a third of those kind of penalties MSU will eat us up.
On the other hand, when we do not shoot ourselves in the head, we have one of the most explosive offenses in the country.
By the way, that was a fumble. I was sitting right there in row 30 staring right at it.
Also by the way – it’s interesting that the Big 12 Commissioner suspended his replay crew, noting that “if a call is egregious enough, it should be replayed” or something like that. He must have found the time to look the word egregious up in a dictionary between week one and week two. The phrase Big 12 replay crew is becoming an oxymoron. Gundy knew the rule, but I guess it’s asking too much to expect these officials to actually know the rules.
La Crosse, Indiana
Did not deserve to win plain and simple have to man up
@SubwayAlum, Kizer isn’t being a good team, he is being a starting quarterback. That’s his job now and it’s exactly what he should be doing. No one would ever complain if a starter was doing that and say Tommy Rees were the backup at the time. I spent a lot of time this summer writing that I thought Zaire would be the guy, but Kizer has earned the right and he is doing exactly what he should be doing.
My take after 2 games… it looks like DK wants to run the O and the team at the same time. Might even be taking pleasure in rubbing “I’m #1” in MZ’s face…first he makes the announcement not BK that he was chosen to start game 2, then he takes on a coaching role when MZ is running the O. He counsels players as they exit the field both on good and bad actions. Some will argue that he’s being a good ‘teammate’. I say, sit down, let MZ have his (limited) time in the spotlight w/o you nosing in on everything! Doesn’t it seem like he’s calling his number more often than not when inside the 5? I think he’s a selfish player…me, me, me.
remember the Zulus at Rorkes drift. The Irish will not be taking prisoners this weekend. Ara will be carried off the field on the shoulders of the Fighting Irish!
If only he was the coach MSU by 7
First of all Michael it’s the Chick-fil-A bowl. And second, the Chick-fil-A bowl is one of the college football playoff semifinals. There’s a Peach in there somewhere but that was a swing and a miss.
Touche! The point was that they are headed for a non-descript bowl of your choice…certainly not anywhere of note.
New year, new personnel same crap D. See possible 5 losses. This weekend starts the Kelly demise
Kelly: the greatest coach to crap the bed and never win a thing. MSU will win because of their D, and I see Stanford winning as well. perhaps the Chick-Filet Bowl…
Notre Dame will win out. The only reason they have a loss at all is Kelly trying to be a friend more than a Coach. Kizer is the Best QB in the Nation and there Stacked offensively. This team will win no less than 10 games. The D looks bad but to say that there not a top 10 to 15 team is insane. Your probably some idiot Sec fan
I’m curious to know which teams Jeff thinks ought to come out of the 25-40 slot to replace ND and MSU. I also wonder if he’ll come back here to say he was seeing something that wasn’t there if ND fail to get “exposed big time” at Stanford. Probably not.
The defense looks like they are completely out of it
I remember going to the men’s room and there was a huge urinal the length of the room with maybe twenty guys using it at the same time, there was a completely drunk guy asleep or passed out at one end inside of it drunk as a skunk
Those were the days
Actually, they both are 8-4 teams
Or maybe Michigan State had a lackluster showing against Furman because the’ve been preparing for ND all this time.
Even if ND was undefeated, the line would be the same if not lower! GO IRISH!
jeff still uses mom jokes…. that in itself is a little antiquated no?
take the points and the spartoonies. the domers have no defense. none…
Many still show up at the trailer park to service your mom even though the facilities there are also antiquated so i guess i see your point Ronnie.
What’s embarrassing is that you continue to tell us how antiquated the facilities are. It’s not stopping 80,000 plus from showing up each and every game.
The only thing surprising to me is how both these teams are ranked as high as they are. Both should be in the 25 -40 slot in the rankings. Texas is over ranked right now as well. ND has some real issues on defense. I see ND getting exposed big time by Stanford. After Spring game i thought ND would have a good chance of running the table with there schedule but that was before the annual wave of academic casualties, expulsions, suspensions, and injuries. There will be more to come i’m sure. 9-3 season at best. Another thing that disappoints me more than the current state of this years team is the antiquated football facilities at ND. I understand there in the process of a major renovation but what i saw there this past weekend is embarrassing. 30 years behind the times.
Why is it a surprise ND is favored in this game? Not to me but the line seems a little high. I figured ND by 3/4 points.
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