It’s been 120 years since the Notre Dame Fighting Irish first met the Michigan State Spartans (then known as Michigan Agricultural College) on the gridiron. The Irish won that game 34-6; they won the next seven games too, all by shutout. This rivalry has gone back and forth since then, mostly in Notre Dame’s favor, but the Spartans won last year’ game 36-28 as 7.5-point road dogs. Will the Irish get back on track this Saturday (8 PM ET, FOX) in East Lansing?

The odds are on their side. Notre Dame (2-1 SU and ATS) is a 3.5-point favorite at press time, but the lines on this game have been all over the map. The Irish opened at –4, then moved to –5 before MSU bettors drove the spread back down to –3.

The Spartans (2-0 SU and ATS) have at least one advantage in this matchup: They were off last week, while Notre Dame had some trouble putting away the Boston College Golden Eagles 49-20 and covering the 14.5-point spread in Chestnut Hill. Sharp bettors appear to have taken notice.

This is a sticky spot for an Irish team that was No. 24 in the polls back in Week 2. That was before they lost 20-19 to the Georgia Bulldogs, who cashed in as 5-point road dogs by holding Norte Dame to 55 yards rushing on 37 carries. The Irish have been trying to steamroll opponents with their running game, operating behind one of the top offensive lines in the FBS, but they might have some trouble getting to the second level against Michigan State’s premium linebacker corps.


Hey Bulldog

The No. 11 Bulldogs (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) have a tough matchup themselves against their SEC namesakes, the No. 17 Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-0 SU and ATS). Kick-off from Sanford Stadium is this Saturday at 7 PM ET on ESPN; Georgia opened at –6.5 before getting bet all the way down to –4.5. Mississippi State made a huge statement last week in their 37-7 upset win over the LSU Tigers, running away with the cash as 7.5-point home dogs. Are they for real?

It certainly looks that way. Dan Mullen’s crew enjoyed a strong finish to the 2016 campaign, including a pair of upsets over Texas A&M (–10 away) and Ole Miss (–10 at home), and they’ve carried that momentum into the new season. Junior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald remains the star here, but he’s been joined by junior running back Aeris Williams, who’s piled up 7.0 yards per carry to keep the chains moving.

Defense has been Georgia’s calling card under second-year head coach Kirby Smart, and these Bulldogs have one of the most fearsome front sevens in college. However, poor pass protection left them at 8-5 SU and 6-7 ATS last year. True freshman quarterback Jake Fromm could be the answer after taking over for sophomore Jacob Eason in their season opener. Fromm has all the upside in the world, and he’s off to a great start with five touchdown passes and just one pick through three games. We’ll see if that performance level holds up against Mississippi State’s improving secondary under new co-ordinator Todd Grantham.


*Odds as of September 22, 2017