Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 7:00 AM
It may not be a rivalry that goes back as long as Skip Bayless and Mark May were thinking…but it has been one of the great college rivalries of the past couple decades. Notre Dame and Michigan are typically important teams in the national landscape…and they have a history of playing very close games against each other. It’s a true shame for the sport if this series comes to a permanent end just so the Irish can get more yawners against ACC mediocrity.
You know you’re going to watch this prime time TV game on ABC Saturday Night. Let’s see if any of our standard NOTEBOOK indicators can help pick a winner. We start with a quick review of last week…
Last Week’s Results
Notre Dame (-28) beat Temple 28-6, failing to cover while only scoring the spread
Michigan (-32) beat Central Michigan 59-9
Both teams gave themselves tune-ups to open the season, which is clear based on those Las Vegas pointspreads. Notre Dame could only score the spread…which isn’t a good sign in a season opener. Michigan really hit the ground running.
Last Week’s Yardage
Notre Dame outgained Temple 543-362, but didn’t maximize their yardage in second half
Michigan outgained Central Michigan 463-201, and outrushed them 242-66
That’s right, Notre Dame could only score 28 points on 543 total yards…while Michigan popped 59 points whole gaining 80 few yards! If you’re a fan of yardage, this would suggest hidden value on the underdog Irish. Teams generally play to their yardage after outliers. But, we know from past Brian Kelly teams that his offensive approach is prone to pile up numbers in the middle of the field while falling short vs. quality in the end zone. And, we also know that Michigan has made some schematic adjustments offensively that could turn them into a more potent force this year than they were last year.
Notre Dame: 12-1 (Lost to Alabama 42-14 in BCS Championship game)
Michigan: 8-5 (Lost to South Carolina 33-28 in the Outback Bowl)
Michigan had to transition to a new quarterback because of an injury…and never really could find consistency. The ability to make big plays here and there hid their inability to drive the field when needed. You surely haven’t forgotten Notre Dame’s story, even if it was overshadowed by a female figment of their defensive star’s imagination.
Notre Dame: 54 in total offense (71 in passing, 38 in rushing)
Michigan: 78 in total offense (94 in passing, 31 in rushing)
Notre Dame did have a reasonably tough schedule…and plays their home games on very slow grass in weather that sometimes isn’t ideal. That being said…they really struggled to find the end zone vs. quality last year…even before the loss to Alabama. Michigan was a huge disappointment on this side of the ball considering their Preseason hype in 2012.
Notre Dame: 7 in total defense (25 in passing, 11 in rushing)
Michigan: 13 in total defense (5 in passing, 51 in rushing)
Two strong defenses…though both were helped by playing Midwest football against some mediocre offenses in months that aren’t ideal for scoring. They weren’t as good as those rankings make it seem…but they were certainly good.
Returning Starters (Projected Quarterback)
Notre Dame: 5 on offense, 8 on defense (Tommy Rees)
Michigan: 5 on offense, 5 on defense (Denard Robinson)
Both teams are hoping newcomers can step up and produce on offense. Notre Dame lost Manti T’eo, but returns almost everybody else on the defensive side. All told…the numbers suggest potential for a great game with a pair of quarterbacks who won’t be intimidated by the scope of the surroundings.
Current Vegas Line: Michigan by 4, total of 50.5
It’s telling that Notre Dame didn’t bring in sharp money at this price. The Wise Guys know that the public tends to back the Irish in big TV games. Yet, there was no position taking in anticipation of a line move. This suggests that sharps believe that the price is right…or the Michigan is likely to offer better value in the big picture.
JIM HURLEY has been studying this game very closely…either for a big individual release or as a component part of his patented TV PARLAYS that are so popular with Las Vegas bettors. You can purchase the final word for Saturday in the morning before the early games kick off. Be sure you take care of business in time to get all the day’s action! If you have any questions about this weekend or the rest of the season, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you tomorrow to discuss the first NFL Sunday Night game of the season involving the NY Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Then we’ll stay in the NFC East Monday for the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins on Monday Night.
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