All summer long Notre Dame was listed as a home underdog to Michigan on almost every betting service. Days before the kickoff of the 2018 season with the two titans about to square off, the line has moved and the Irish are now favored.
Tarik Black Injury
Michigan star wide receiver Tarik Black injured his foot in practice over weekend and will reportedly be out for “some weeks” according to Jim Harbaugh earlier today. Shea Patterson’s top target will not be playing against the Irish this weekend, but was news of his injury enough to swing the line two points? It looks like it. And that’s surprising. Isn’t Patterson supposed to be the savior of Michigan football? Surely he can elevate his other receivers, right?
The line at the beginning of the weekend favored Michigan by a point, but by this morning Notre Dame was favored by a point – a two point swing. Black was Patterson’s top target, but the Wolverines do have some other capable receivers so it’s a bit surprising that the news alone would move the line.
It’s more likely that the move in the line was a bit of an overreaction by bettors who saw this game as too close to call before the injury to Black.
Notre Dame Should be Favored
I’ll be blunt here. Notre Dame should be favored in this game. The Irish are coming off a 10-3 campaign with a win over LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Michigan was 8-5 a year ago with a loss to a mediocre South Carolina team in the Outback Bowl.
The Wolverines did land Patterson as a transfer who the uneven NCAA inexplicably granted a waiver because well, they are the NCAA and what they do makes little sense. But still, Patterson didn’t exactly light it up at Ole Miss. In fact, he was a pretty ineffective quarterback for the Rebels before injury.
As the home team Notre Dame should get three points and this game should really be a pick ’em if this was a neutral site so as the home team, Notre Dame should be favored by more than one point as far as I’m concerned.
Notre Dame is ranked higher, playing at home, and returned almost its entire defense. Add that all up and why wasn’t Notre Dame favored in the first place?
Notre Dame Better as Favorite Against Michigan
According to Oddshark, Notre Dame is 6-2 against the spread at home in their last eight contests against Michigan and 6-2 straight up against them at home. The two losses came in 2010 and 2006. So for anyone who says they don’t care about the odds, Notre Dame performs well against the spread and as a favorite against Michigan so the Irish being favored is a good sign for Notre Dame.
One thing people tend to forget with the point spread is that it’s not really designed to predict who will win. It’s designed to make the sports books the most money. So when the spread moves two points in favor of Notre Dame, it means a lot of money has come in on the Irish and Vegas is trying to even things out by encouraging money to come in on Michigan.
It will be interesting to watch the line throughout the week to see where bettors’ minds are on this one. If the spread continues to trend towards the Irish it will let us know that bettors are betting heavily on the Irish. If it drifts back towards Michigan, it will give us an idea that people are really confused on this one and don’t really know what to expect.
I think we’ll see this one stabilize a bit and then end up are -2 or -3 towards Notre Dame by kickoff. I think a lot of late money will come in on the Irish.