A rough season for Michigan State could get much worse against rival Michigan on Saturday. Let’s take a look at the odds and best bet for this in-state rivalry game.
Michigan vs. Michigan State Prediction & Best Bet
Michigan State just lost to a Rutgers team that was soundly beaten by Michigan earlier in the year. While the transitive property isn’t how college football works, the evidence is clear that the Spartans likely won’t be the first team to keep it competitive against the Wolverines.
Even a rough first quarter against Indiana last weekend gave way to a 45-point Michigan win. The Wolverines’ defense is suffocating against inferior offenses, and that’s what Michigan State has with a QB who has made one start this year. Playing in East Lansing shouldn’t be much of an obstacle for Michigan, which has won by 38 and 42 points on the road this season.
If it means anything, I wouldn’t expect Michigan to let up early in this game after Michigan State’s behavior in the tunnel following last season’s game. The Spartans are spiraling in a post-Mel Tucker world, to the point that their offense shouldn’t be expected to do much on Saturday. It would be a surprise if their defense could keep Michigan in check for four quarters. Michigan -24.5 is the pick.
Michigan vs. Michigan State Prediction & Best Bet: Michigan -24.5
Michigan vs. Michigan State Betting Odds
Michigan is a heavy 24.5-point favorite in East Lansing. The Wolverines are -2800 on the moneyline, with an over/under of 48 points
Only one of Michigan’s seven wins has come by less than 24.5 points – a 24-point victory over Rutgers. Michigan State is directionless at the moment as a coaching search looms, but these rivals always play each other hard. Will the Spartans be the first team to truly hang with Michigan this season?
Michigan vs. Michigan State Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Saturday’s game between Michigan and Michigan State.
Katin Houser vs. Michigan Pass Defense
The Spartans made a change at quarterback last week, and the results weren’t terrible. Katin Houser was fine against a solid Rutgers defense, tossing two touchdowns and avoiding interceptions. It wasn’t enough in the end, but that was largely the fault of Michigan State’s defense. Going up against Michigan’s defense will be a much more challenging task.
While the Wolverines’ run defense is the facet that has enjoyed the most success this season, the pass defense is 17th among all FBS schools at 6.0 yards allowed per pass attempt. That mark is actually slightly worse than Rutgers’ average, but the way Michigan takes away running games will put pressure on Houser to throw the ball and throw often – particularly if and when Michigan State falls behind.
No team has scored more than 10 points against the Wolverines this season, so the bar is low for Houser.
Michigan Offense vs. Early Rust
It’s taken Michigan some time to settle in at different points this season, though the Wolverines have still managed to win each of their games in blowout fashion. As more important games approach, though, it’s becoming more critical for Michigan to learn how to start fast.
The Wolverines were out-gained in a big way early in last week’s blowout win over Indiana, and J.J. McCarthy just didn’t have it early on against Bowling Green in September. Michigan can get away with this against far inferior teams, even Michigan State but a slow start in East Lansing could allow the Spartans to hang around and keep this game competitive longer than it has to be.