Michigan State bettors have grown accustomed to celebrating trips to Notre Dame because their Spartans almost always cover the point spread there.
Since 1997, Michigan State has trekked to South Bend eight times and Spartan bettors have celebrated seven times (7-1 ATS according to OddsShark.com).
The Fighting Irish may be playing into this same trap in 2013, with 2-1 SU record so far but 0-3 ATS slate. They complete the Big Ten portion of their schedule Saturday afternoon.
In the early wagering, Notre Dame opened at -7, with the total offered at 42.5 or 43. As of midweek, most shops listed the Irish at -6.5, while the total had been bet down to 41.
The Golden Domers, ranked No. 11 in the preseason USA Today poll, won their opener over Temple 28-6, but couldn't cover the spread as 27-point favorites.
They then lost to Michigan at the Big House 41-30, rallying from 14 points down to get within 34-30, but giving up a late score to miss out on the cash as 4-point underdogs.
Last Saturday the Irish won at Purdue 31-24, and while they rallied from down 10-0 to take a 31-17 lead, that's as close as they got to covering as 19-point road chalk.
Michigan State, meanwhile, is 3-0 SU but just 1-2 ATS this season. The Spartans opened with a 26-13 victory over Western Michigan, but came nowhere close to covering 27 points. They then defeated South Florida 21-6 but couldn't cover 21 points.
Last Saturday, though, Sparty beat Youngstown State 55-17 and covered at -23.
Michigan State may boast one of the top-ranked defenses in all of FBS, allowing just 177 YPG, but let's face it, they haven't played anybody. Sagarin at USA Today Sports ranks MSU's schedule so far as the 182nd-toughest, out of 250 teams.
Also, it took three games, but the Spartans apparently have decided upon a starter at quarterback, after redshirt sophomore Connor Cook went 15-for-22 with four touchdowns last Saturday.
On the other side of the field, Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees has completed 61 percent of his throws this season for 969 yards and seven touchdowns, with two interceptions.
Notre Dame has won the last two games in this series, including a 20-3 decision in East Lansing last September. The Irish ran for 122 yards that night, held the Spartans to 50, and won outright as 4-point underdogs.
NBC has the live coverage of the game from South Bend on Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Computer Prediction: 37-21 Michigan State (from Odds Shark picks computer)
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