NFL Week 11 Picks

September 18th NFL news ... NFL Week 11 Picks at


No. 22 Notre Dame will face its third straight Big Ten opponent when they host unbeaten Michigan State on Saturday night.

While Michigan and Notre Dame may get more headlines, the Fighting Irish and Spartans have developed into a heated rivalry. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 46-28-1, but these two have played some very close games in the past decade. In the past 12 matchups, both teams have won six of the games. The road team has prevailed in eight of those 12 matchups as part of MSU's 7-1 ATS and 6-2 SU mark in its past eight trips to South Bend. Last season these two teams met in what turned out to be a one-sided affair as Notre Dame went to East Lansing and dominated the Spartans 20-3. However, that was with one of the best defenses in the country. Notre Dame has been very good on offense this season (29.7 PPG, 451 total YPG), but struggled on defense (23.7 PPG, 372 total YPG). Michigan State has been the complete opposite, dominating on defense (12.0 PPG, 177 total YPG), but struggling on offense in the two games versus FBS schools (23.5 PPG, 281 total YPG). Although these teams are a combined 1-5 ATS (Irish 0-3, Spartans 1-2), this should be a very exciting game in this rivalry on Saturday night.

Heading into last weeks 55-17 victory over Youngstown State, the offense of the Spartans had only scored two touchdowns. During that exact same span, the defense had scored four times. One of the problems was the Spartans had not decided on who was going to be the starting quarterback. However, head coach Mark Dantonio has decided on his guy, and QB Connor Cook is now the man for Michigan State. Last week against Youngstown State, he threw for 202 yards and four touchdowns. The offense really struggled last season as well, and that played a huge role in why they went 7-6 last season. Of those six losses, only the loss to Notre Dame was by more than four points. Michigan State is only 1-2 ATS this year, but that was in large part because of the offense sputtering. If they can build off last weeks success, then the Spartans could become a very dangerous team as the defense is as good as there is in the country. They enter Saturdays game ranking 12th in FBS scoring defense, giving up only 12.0 points per game. DE Shilique Calhoun has played like a man possessed, scoring three touchdowns in the Spartans first two games. Michigan State is loaded on all three levels on its defense, but will have their toughest date yet this season going up against an explosive Notre Dame offense.

Last season, it was the defense that carried the team (12.8 PPG, 2nd in FBS; 306 total YPG allowed, 7th in FBS), but Notre Dames offense has been very good this year. This is even more surprising after last year's starting QB Everett Golson was suspended for academics. QB Tommy Rees, who has thrown for 4,414 yards and 34 touchdowns in his career, has showed the ability to attack deep with wide receivers TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels. Last week against Purdue, Daniels had 167 yards and two touchdo-wns in the 31-24 victory over the 17-point underdog Boilermakers. Notre Dame has allowed 23.7 points per game, which ranks 57th in the country. The biggest problem is that the Irish are very susceptible to the big play, as they have given up seven plays over 20 yards. Against Michigan State last season, the Spartans gained a pathetic 237 total yards, including just 50 yards on 25 carries. Notre Dames defense must step up because it will be very tough to score against Michigan State.

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