All of that seems to be a memory at this point. Both MSU and Notre Dame struggled mightily last season, and they both seem to be pointed towards a long 2017 campaign as well.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Michigan State Spartans
Date and Time: Saturday, September 23, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Opening College Football Odds: Notre Dame -3.5
Notre Dame vs. Michigan State TV Coverage: FOX
In fairness to Michigan State, it's a 2-0 team after the first two games of the season. Expectations are still rather low this year, especially after truly not-convincing games against Bowling Green and Western Michigan. This is the first real test of the year, and if Mark Dantonio and company can pull this one off, it will be a sure sign that last season is a thing of the past and it's time to once again look ahead.
The fate of this team really has changed based on the abilities of Brian Lewerke under center. Lewerke is just a sophomore at this point, but he's evolving into the undisputed leader of this team. Lewerke has thrown for 411 yards and run for 150 more, including a 61-yard touchdown scamper that showed all of his athleticism. Notre Dame is going to have a really tough time trying to figure out how to slow this man down, especially if L.J. Scott can get going as well and build on his 125 yards in his first two games of the campaign.
Notre Dame has played a sneakily good schedule thus far this season, but in spite of the wins over Temple and Boston College, the glaring defeat was the 20-19 loss to a Georgia team that didn't have Jacob Eason under center.
The Golden Domers have an opportunity still to play their way back into the national picture, but they can't punt this one or next week's game against Miami (OH) if they want to do just that.
Brandon Wimbush is turning all sorts of heads right now. He rushed for 207 yards against BC, a school record for quarterbacks, and he added four touchdowns, one shy of the school record. If Wimbush ever evolves as a passer, he could be one of the most dangerous threats at any position in America.
7.5 – The number of rushing yards per attempt Notre Dame is averaging this season, No. 1 in America.
Notre Dame truly has turned into a run-first team with Wimbush under center, and for good reason. The team already has three runs this year of at least 65 yards, and all three of Wimbush, Josh Adams and Dexter Williams are averaging at least 6.4 yards per carry.
Considering the fact that the Fighting Irish are averaging just 5.12 yards per pass attempt this season, their ground game had better be good, and Michigan State had best be ready to slow this unit down to succeed in this game.
Notre Dame vs. Michigan State Free Picks
Both of these teams seem to be trending at least a little bit upward after their horrible 2016 season. That said, we're confused as to why the Spartans are underdogs at home for this game at every single online sportsbook on the internet.
Michigan State has made a promise to itself and its program to be better at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. If this turns into a game like the Georgia game for Notre Dame, Wimbush could be held under wraps, and that could pose some problems.
We suspect this is going to be a relatively ugly game on Saturday night, and that's just the way Dantonio would want it.
College Football ATS Pick: Michigan State +3 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Michigan State 26, Notre Dame 20