N. Dame-Michigan Odds

Ann Arbor, MI - Either Notre Dame or Michigan has been in disarray heading into their mid-September meeting the past two seasons.

After convincing opening-week wins, two of college football's most storied programs enter this year's showdown with something foreign to both teams the past few years - hope.

Bet College Football Week 2

Perhaps the most optimism surrounds the 18th-ranked Fighting Irish, who look to keep their offense rolling Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines have shut them out in two of their past three visits.

Oddsmakers from online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com have made Notre Dame -4 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on Notre Dame -4 (View College Football bet percentages).

Notre Dame (1-0) and Michigan have the two best winning percentages in NCAA history, but the past two seasons haven't been among either program's finest hours.

The Fighting Irish went 3-9 in 2007, a record Michigan equaled last season as coach Rich Rodriguez took over the program following Lloyd Carr's retirement.

Notre Dame barely qualified for a bowl with a 6-6 regular season in 2008 as the Wolverines suffered their worst season in school history. Though improvement was expected from two programs that had nowhere to go but up, they appeared to each make significant strides in Week 1.

Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier threw three touchdowns in his collegiate debut to lead Michigan (1-0) to a 31-7 win over Western Michigan, while junior Jimmy Clausen was nearly flawless against Nevada, throwing for 315 yards and four scores in the Irish's 35-0 victory.

"I think because both teams were somewhat question marks going into the opening week and both had sound, convincing wins, it's increased the interest of everyone else as it relates to (this) game," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "The trickle-down effect is that it permeates to the players."

The Irish beat Michigan 35-17 in South Bend last season despite being outgained 388-260 and receiving an uneven performance from Clausen, who went 10 of 21 for 147 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. That effort, however, was a major step up from his 2007 game against the Wolverines, when he and the Notre Dame offense mustered 79 yards in a shutout loss.

If his past two games are any indication, Clausen - the nation's top recruit two years ago out of high school - has finally turned the corner. He went 22 of 26 for 401 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-21 Hawaii Bowl victory over Hawaii on Dec. 24, and with his 15-of-18 day against Nevada posted a 303.67 passer rating that was far and away the nation's best through one week.

"He's playing pretty well right now," Weis said. "But he knows that now we've got to go on the road to the "Big House," and he knows he's going to be a formidable challenge, and you're not going to just throw up 85 percent every time you go out there."

Forcier didn't come to Michigan with quite the credentials that Clausen boasted when he enrolled at Notre Dame, but Forcier's career is off to a more impressive start. The 19-year-old went 13 for 20 for 179 yards Saturday - also running for 37 yards - in helping the Wolverines score all of their points in the first half Saturday against the Broncos.

Despite Forcier's play in the opener, Rodriguez is sticking with his plan to give some snaps to fellow freshman Denard Robinson and slow-footed junior Nick Sheridan - though Forcier will start.

"He's a good leader for us - even as a freshman,'' junior guard Steve Schilling said. "He's confident, and we're confident with him back there.''

Forcier can feel more confident after finding an early connection with Junior Hemingway. Making his second career start, Hemingway caught two of Forcier's threw touchdowns passes and totaled 103 yards.

Hemingway, however, won't be the most accomplished sophomore receiver inside Michigan Stadium on Saturday. That would be Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, who hauled in four receptions - three touchdowns - for 189 yards against the Wolf Pack.

"He just makes plays any time the ball comes to him,'' Clausen said after finding Floyd for a 70-yard touchdown and later an 88-yarder.

Michigan leads the series 20-15-1 and has an 11-7 edge in Ann Arbor, including 38-0 victories in 2003 and 2007. The Irish have lost nine of their last 12 road openers.

Bet College Football Week 2

Posted: 9/8/09 10:40PM ET


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