NCAAF Free Pick: Michigan State Plus the Points at Home Vs. Notre Dame

Michigan State Spartans

Willie Bee

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 3:06 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2017 3:06 PM GMT

Though neither is ranked in the latest polls, there’s still a lot on the line at Michigan State this Saturday when the Spartans look to overcome the NCAA football odds and beat the Irish.

Season: 10-8 (+1.25)

It’s a memory that has stuck for more than 50 years, and probably will last forever. And I’m not the only one who can recall the 1966 battle between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Michigan State Spartans, a game that meant so much going in and leave so much unresolved coming out.

One big part of the memory was the fact we listened to the matchup on the radio, the game only drawing regional tape delay coverage on television despite pitting the top two teams in the polls. Far less is riding on this year’s contest with neither team currently ranked, yet gets national coverage on FOX starting at 8 PM (ET). Heritage currently has the Irish laying 5, other shops listing -4½ for the spread, and 54 for the total.

 

Spartans Defense Has Been Tough To Move On

Brian Kelly is obviously looking for a different result than the last time he took his Notre Dame squad on the road. Burdened with a similar spread to cover at Georgia, the Bulldogs booted a late field goal to score a mild 20-19 upset. Georgia managed to stifle the Fighting Irish rushing attack, limiting them to 56 yards on the ground. Kelly’s crew responded with a strong ground game last week at home to beat Boston College, junior QB Brandon Wimbush running for more than 200 yards and four scores. One of Wimbush’s top targets, Cameron Smith, is listed as questionable for this game with an ankle injury.

Michigan State took last week off after opening with consecutive wins and covers, each of the Spartans’ first two games staying ‘under’ the NCAA football odds. The main ingredient in Mark Dantonio’s recipe for success so far has been a stellar defense that held Bowling Green and Western Michigan to just an average of a few more than 200 yards total offense each. The offense managed to move the ball on the ground pretty easy against the two MAC sides, but has had trouble holding onto the pigskin with seven total fumbles, four of them lost.

 

Rivalry Trends, Mother Nature & A Free Pick

The 10-10 tie in 1966 is the only one of 76 clashes to end in a deadlock. Notre Dame has a 46-29 advantage in the other 75 meetings, though the Spartans have current bragging rights following last year’s 36-28 decision in South Bend. Michigan State was getting a touchdown in that upset, continuing a trend for road teams which have covered 13 of the last 17, with one push. The 2016 collision went past the total to stop a 3-game string of ‘under’ winners in the series, and this year’s scoreboard mark is the highest since the bar was set at 59 in 2006.

After a rather damp week, the rain is supposed to clear out from the East Lansing area and leave clear skies for Saturday’s tilt, temps in the upper-70s at kickoff. Rain or shine, one thing we do know about the 77th meeting between the two is it won’t end in a tie, and I’m liking the home ‘dogs for my free college football pick.

Free College Football Pick: Michigan State +5 (-105)Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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