Handicapper backs Spartans

Despite a wounded knee that has him hobbling, Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis has been lucky this season.

The Fighting Irish barely escaped their season opener with a victory over San Diego State, and last week a few fortunate bounces led to a win against a weak Michigan team.

But the Irish are about to hit the road and run out of luck, according to handicapper Bryan Leonard, who recommends wagering on Michigan State as an 81/2-point favorite over Notre Dame on Saturday.

The Spartans follow the lead of senior running back Javon Ringer, who has rushed for 498 yards and nine touchdowns in three games.

“Notre Dame once again holds the banner as the most overrated team in the country,” said Leonard (footballwinners.com).

“The Fighting Irish enter this game at 2-0 despite managing a combined 602 total yards in two home games. Considering that last year they averaged just 242 yards of offense, I guess you can say they have improved.

“You could say that, but in reality it has been an opportunistic defense which has forced eight turnovers that led to the 56 combined points. They received three gift turnovers against Michigan, which muffed two kickoffs, setting up back-to-back short drives for the Irish to open the game.”

After opening with a loss at California, Michigan State routed Eastern Michigan 42-10 before beating Florida Atlantic 17-0 last week in a driving rainstorm.

The Spartans whipped the Irish 31-14 last year, holding Notre Dame to just nine first downs and 203 total yards.

Leonard analyzes today’s Baylor-Connecticut game and two more plays for Saturday (Home team in CAPS):

CONNECTICUT (-12) over Baylor: The Bears pounded Washington State 45-17 last Friday as freshman quarterback Robert Griffin looked very impressive in rushing for 217 yards. But the Baylor passing game has not clicked yet, and now the Bears must travel for the first time with a freshman QB.

The Huskies have limited the opposition to 10.9 points per game in their past nine home games. Connecticut has cashed eight of nine at Rentschler Field.

Rutgers (-5) over NAVY: The Scarlet Knights are off to a terrible start, with embarrassing home losses to Fresno State and North Carolina. They actually outplayed the Bulldogs in the first half, and they also were the better team in the first quarter against the Tar Heels. The problem for Rutgers was a minus-six turnover margin as the offense became very predictable after falling behind.

With receivers Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood, Rutgers should have a field day through the air. The Scarlet Knights are 12-4-1 ATS on the road versus nonconference opposition.

San Jose State (+8) over STANFORD: The Spartans just blew out San Diego State 35-10, holding the Aztecs to seven first downs and 146 total yards. That’s the second straight week San Jose’s defense had an impressive showing.

This is one of those one-way rivalries in which the game means much more to San Jose State. Stanford is 1-2 against a tough early schedule and has been completely outplayed in the stats.

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