Michigan State vs. Michigan (10/29 @ 7:30 p.m. EST.)
Michigan State vs Michigan Breakdown and Betting Odds
In-state rivals Michigan State (3-4) and No. 4 Michigan (7-0) are battling in Ann Arbor Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Wolverines are 22.5-point favorites over the Spartans. The over/under is set at 55 points.
Michigan might own the lifetime rivalry with a .645 win percentage, but the Spartans have controlled the battles since 2008. In the last 13 matchups, Michigan State is 10-3 including back-to-back wins over Michigan. If Michigan has any consolation prize, Sparty has not won the matchup by multiple scores since 2014.
Michigan State Overview
Michigan State began the season with a pair of local wins over MAC teams, smashing Western Michigan and Akron. Then ranked No. 11, they lost at Washington before opening Big Ten play with a trio of losses. They righted the ship in their last game against Wisconsin, but they have an uphill fight for bowl eligibility. They have three remaining road games against ranked teams that could spell disaster.
Michigan State scored 87 points in their first two games, but they have struggled to just 20.4 points per game in their last five games. All told, they are 77th in scoring offense, scoring 27.0 points per game. Mel Tucker’s bunch has been largely ineffective at passing or running the football. Quarterback Payton Thorne has thrown 11 touchdowns to seven interceptions. The Spartans do have three rushers over 100 yards and 4.3 yards per carry, but those figures are less than ideal in the college realm. Sophomore receiver Keon Coleman has had a solid season with 393 yards and five touchdowns.
Like the offense, the defense has been in a rut. They allowed 13 points in two games to open the season, but they have allowed at least 27 points in each of the last five games. They have the 74th-ranked scoring defense, allowing 27.1 points per game. This is despite an incredible run of form for transfer Jacoby Windmon. The former UNLV linebacker has 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and an incredible six forced fumbles. He leads the conference in tackles for loss, and his six forced fumbles lead the NCAA.
If all else fails for Michigan State, they have one of the best punters in college football. Bryce Baringer leads all punters with an absurd 51.4-yard-per-punt average, 3.5 yards ahead of any other punter in FBS. It even edges out “Punt God” Matt Araiza from last season.
Michigan State is 1-4 ATS in their last five games, finally breaking their skid with a win over Wisconsin. Michigan State’s issue has been its inability to keep games close. Before beating Wisconsin, they had lost their last four games by at least 11 points each. This includes a 27-point drubbing by Minnesota and a 29-point beatdown by Ohio State. The over is 3-2, hitting in each of the last two weeks.
Michigan opened the season at No. 8 in the country, and they have done nothing to cast doubt on their season so far. In games against non-Power Five teams, they won by 44, 46, and 59. They have controlled Big Ten play, beating Iowa and Indiana on the road before clobbering No. 10 Penn State by 24 in their last game. The only game within 10 points was a 7-point win over a plucky Maryland team.
Michigan’s dominance stems from both sides of the ball. On offense, they have the No. 6 scoring offense. Running back Blake Corum leads FBS with 13 rushing touchdowns, bludgeoning the defense to the tune of 6.2 yards per carry. In the passing game, J.J. McCarthy has been hyper-efficient. He leads the country with a 77.1% completion rate. He is averaging 9.0 yards per attempt and has 10 total touchdowns with just two interceptions. In the receiving game, Ronnie Bell leads the team with 35 catches and 429 yards. Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson have three touchdowns each.
Even after losing three stud defensive players who became top-50 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, Michigan has been every bit as good as they were last season. They rank third in scoring defense, allowing 12.1 points per game. Mike Morris leads the team with five sacks and eight tackles for loss. Rod Moore has nabbed a pair of interceptions, and DJ Turner has four passes defended. Opponents are completing 52% of passes while being entirely ineffective at running the ball.
In their last five games, Michigan is 3-2 ATS. Their two losses came as a 17-point favorite (Maryland) and a 23.5-point favorite (Indiana). The under is 3-1-1 in the last five games, but the over hit in Michigan’s last game.
TakingVegas.com Pick: Under 55
As tempting as it is to expect Michigan to smash Michigan State and cover the -22.5 number, taking Under 55 is much more likely to happen. Michigan’s optimal offense is efficient passing and consistent runs. This will whittle time off the clock and reduce scoring opportunities for both teams. Coupling this game script with Michigan State’s punter forcing longer fields than normal, Michigan should exact their revenge in a relatively low-scoring affair in Ann Arbor.
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