Michigan State vs. Indiana Betting Odds
Sparty is 6-0. They’re coming off two straight against the spread (ATS) victories as well, beating Rutgers 31-13 as four-point favorites and Western Kentucky 48-31 as 10.5-point favorites. This is one of the best Michigan State football teams in recent memory, and East Lansing residents are thrilled.
Meanwhile, Indiana has had an underwhelming season. After a magical 2020 run, the Hoosiers are 2-3 and 1-4 ATS. Unlike Michigan State, they failed to cover against Western Kentucky, and they’re coming off a brutal, shutout loss to Penn State.
However, Indiana had a bye last week, so perhaps they’ll be fresh and rested for this game. It’s always enticing to take home underdogs, but is this one worth betting?
Michigan State Spartans Odds
Michigan State has the most talented running back in the nation.
Kenneth Walker III grades out as seventh in PFF’s run grades, but he’s carrying the entire team while doing it. Michigan State ranks outside the top 40 in Passing Success Rate, and the offensive line ranks outside the top 25 in Line Yards, but Walker is averaging over seven yards per carry anyways. Plus, he’s already recorded 16 rushes of 15+ yards through just six games.
KENNETH WALKER JUKES HIS WAY TO A 94-YARD TD 😤
— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) October 9, 2021
Payton Thorne is an underwhelming quarterback, but he’s had an overwhelming season. The Sophomore has completed 62.4% of his passes for over 1500 yards through six games, and he’s posted a 14:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the process.
He has two solid targets in Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor. Both have caught 23 passes this season, and both are averaging over 21 yards per reception. Plus, they’ve combined to catch 11 of those 14 aforementioned touchdowns.
JALEN NAILOR CAN’T STOP SCORING
🚀 63-yard TD
🚀 63-yard TD
🚀 65-yard TD
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 9, 2021
The defense has been mixed. They grade out as PFF’s 11th-best defense, but they rank just 71st in Defensive Success Rate. While the Spartans are allowing just 3.3 yards per carry, they’re also allowing more than 300 yards passing per game.
However, they’ve embraced more of a bend-don’t-break style. While the defense struggles with efficiency, they’re 21st in Finishing Drives. So, all-in-all, the defense is allowing less than 20 points per game, ranking 27th in FBS in that stat.
Overall, it’s hard to argue with what the Spartans are doing, because their approach is working.
Indiana Hoosiers Odds
After posting two seasons with a PFF passing grade of 80+, Michael Penix Jr. has taken a big step back this season.
He’s completing only 53.7% of his passes for less than six yards per attempt. He’s posted a 4:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season, already recording eight Turnover Worthy Plays through five games this season.
But he adds an extra dimension with his legs, right? After all, this was the play everyone remembers from the 2020 season:
MICHAEL PENIX JR pic.twitter.com/00d2mv0AxG
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) October 24, 2020
But in 2020, he averaged just 1.4 yards per carry. And this season, he’s rushed for a whopping -24 yards.
The whole offense has struggled as a result, ranking just 97th in Offensive Success Rate and averaging only 23.8 points per game – good for 99th in the FBS.
The defense hasn’t picked him up, either. Indiana has allowed more than 28 points per game and ranks just 74th in Defensive Success Rate. The lifeless Penn State offense managed more than 400 total yards against this defense, which cannot happen if you expect to compete in the Big Ten.
Prediction and Pick
My pick: Michigan State -4.5
As they have all season, Michigan State is going to rely on Walker to carry them to a victory. In this game, that strategy should work out perfectly.
Indiana ranks just 46th in Defense Line Yards, and it ranks only 71st in Defensive Standard Downs Success Rate. The Michigan State offense will easily be able to sustain long, rush-heavy drives against the Indiana defense.
Meanwhile, does anyone trust Penix? He and the Hoosier offense have combined for six total points through two Big Ten games this season. While the Spartan defense isn’t the best in the conference, they can keep Penix and Co. at bay.
Look for Michigan State to control the ball, run the ball, and score enough points to comfortably cover this 4.5-point spread.