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.