Michigan-Notre Dame Betting Guide: Will Defenses Dominate?

Michigan-Notre Dame Betting Guide: Will Defenses Dominate? article feature image

Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Julian Okwara (42) and defensive lineman Jerry Tillery (99) and defensive lineman Andrew Trumbetti (98) celebrate after a play against the LSU Tigers in the 2018 Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium.

  • Two of college football's most storied programs -- Michigan and Notre Dame -- will meet for the first time since 2014 on Saturday night.
  • Both teams bring strong defenses and some unknowns on offense into the contest.
  • Expect the weather to have an impact on the game plans for both offenses.

Michigan at Notre Dame Betting Odds

  • Spread: Notre Dame -1
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBC

By Stuckey

Talk about pedigree. We have the winningest (Michigan at .729) and fourth-winningest (Notre Dame) programs in college football history meeting in Week 1.

After playing each other in 12 consecutive seasons, from 2002-2014, these teams will meet for the first time since the Irish blew out Michigan 31-0 in South Bend. The home team in this series is 7-1 straight-up and against-the-spread since 2007.

In 2006, Michigan rolled into South Bend against a ranked Notre Dame team — which marked the Wolverines’ last true road win against a team ranked in the AP Top 25. They are an astonishing 0-16 in such games since.

Market Moves

By Steve Petrella

Good luck keeping up with this one.

Michigan opened at -1 in late May and got to -3 in the summer. The Wolverines bounced around -1 and -2 for much of August before some sharp action — coupled with an injury to leading wide receiver Tarik Black — forced the line up to Michigan +1, where it sits as of Friday afternoon.

>> All odds as of 2 p.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.

Key Injuries

Michigan WR Tarik Black — Out
Notre Dame RB Dexter Williams — Questionable

Trends to Know

By Evan Abrams

Michigan opened as a 1.5-point road favorite against Notre Dame, but the Irish are currently listed as a 1-point home favorite. Since 2005, Michigan has opened as a favorite and closed as an underdog just three times, including a 2008 road loss in South Bend against Notre Dame. — Evan Abrams

Over the last decade during stints with Michigan, Stanford and the 49ers, Jim Harbaugh has exceeded expectations early in the season, going 22-12-1 ATS (+9.2 units). — Evan Abrams

Harbaugh In August and September:

  • at Michigan: 7-5 ATS (+1.6 units)
  • at 49ers: 9-5-1 ATS (+3.8 units)
  • at Stanford: 6-2 ATS (+3.8 units)

By John Ewing

Notre Dame is a public team. Casual bettors love wagering on the Irish; the bookmakers know this and will shade the lines, often making ND overvalued.

  • All regular-season games (since 2005): 72-79-4 (48%) ATS
  • As a Top-25 team: 37-43-2 (46%) ATS
  • As a ranked favorite: 25-38-2 (40%) ATS

Weather Forecast

Scattered thunderstorms and 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

Bets to Watch

By Stuckey

I personally love the first-half and full-game under. Both defensive lines should dominate in the trenches, making it tough for either side to sustain drives. The Irish defense returns 10 starters, and their front is nasty — led by DT Jerry Tillery.

Guess which defense also brings back 10 starters? Yup, Michigan, which might have the nation’s second-best defensive line (behind Clemson) led by defensive end Rashan Gary.

Both teams have major questions with their passing games, as Brandon Wimbush really struggles with accuracy and Shea Patterson will be playing his first game in a new system. In 2017, Michigan and Notre Dame finished 113th and 118th in the nation in completion percentage, respectively.

With both ground games likely shut down, I don’t trust either passing attack to find any type of success. This one projects to be ugly throughout with Notre Dame pulling it out thanks to a few more big plays out of the RPO — one of the only offensive schemes that gave the Michigan defense issues last season.

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By Ken Barkley

There are some really interesting things going on this game. First, the total opened at 48 and still got bet down, which tells you what everyone thinks of the two defenses. Notre Dame ranks first in the country in returning defensive production, and Michigan ranks 15th. The type of game the markets are projecting isn’t a mystery.

Wimbush and Patterson inspire confidence because their highlight reels are exceptional. In reality, Wimbush is a subpar passer in terms of accuracy — he completed 49.5% of his passes last season. With much less returning production, how much better can he play?

Meanwhile, Patterson is a big name, but the fact remains his best plays are improvised (how much does Jim Harbaugh want THAT?) and the Ole Miss offense didn’t really miss a beat when Jordan Ta’amu stepped in to replace him last season.

The added wrinkle for the two starting quarterbacks is the weather. For about five days, the forecast of thunderstorms and 15 mph winds has gone back and forth between occurring during pregame and halftime. For two teams with extreme accuracy issues (Notre Dame specifically), high winds only add additional difficulty.

I’m waiting as long as possible before I do anything here. Despite everyone expecting a total slugfest, this is a situation where they’re probably right more often than not, and I’d still lean under with totals in the high 40s.

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and is based on their research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.