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Michigan vs. Michigan State Big 10 Football Pick with Analysis


#23 Michigan State hosts #11 and undefeated Michigan Saturday in a Big 10 match up that is without a doubt one of the marquee games of the weekend. Michigan State opened up as a -3 point favorite but a strong line move on Tuesday brought this number down to -1.5, even -1 in spots. The posted total is 48.5 points. Michigan State has taken advantage if the "down years" at Michigan by winning 3 straight in this series including last year's 34-17 win which was the Spartans largest margin of victory in the series in 44 years. So, a little revenge working for the Wolverines Saturday.

The big question to be answered Saturday is, which team is the paper tiger? Or is it both? Or neither? If we're to take a quick look at each teams body of work thus far, we'd have to say the likely paper tiger is Michigan State. Let's face it, the toughest opponent they faced, Notre Dame, blew them out 31-13. They held their other 4 opponents, all wins, to a touchdown or less. But those teams were Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic, Central Michigan and Ohio State.

Michigan hasn't exactly had a grueling schedule either. They also had Notre Dame, but beat the Irish 35-31. The rest of their wins came against teams that are a notch or two above the Spartans opponents, but nothing to write home about. They beat Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State, Minnesota and Northwestern. Note that Michigan started the year with 5 straight home games. Unheard of.

If we had to make a call on who the paper tiger was, we'd guess it's likely Michigan State. It looks as though Michigan has done a better job against competition that has been slightly up a notch from what the Spartans have faced. They also have a strong revenge motive working in their favor here.

Last year Michigan State was able to run the ball well in this game and also picked off Denard Robinson 3 times while containing him on the ground. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio signed a new contract this week and beating Michigan 3 straight had a lot to do with that contract, although 11-2 last year didn't hurt.

We would agree with the line move here. Michigan +3 is likely a good play. But not at the current price of +1 or +2. That being said, we aren't going to make a selection on the side in this one. Instead, we are going to make a recommendation on the total.

Yeah, the competition has been questionable, but these two teams have, for the most part bottled up opponents. Notre Dame scored 31 on the Spartans but they held all 4 of their other opponents to 7 points or less. Ohio State is obviously not what they were, but it's still a Big 10 offensive line trying to protect the QB and the Spartans got through with regularity in that one. Michigan also gave up 31 points to Notre Dame and 24 to Northwestern, but held their other 4 opponents to 10, 7, 3 and 0.

We're going to go out on a limb here and suggest that there's some truth to those defensive performances. 95% of the action on the total in this game is coming in on the over, which opened at 47. We're going to go out on a little bit of a limb here and place ourselves in the 5% that are on the under. Traditionally this series has been high scoring. Our model has Michigan State winning a narrow 15-13 decision here, and while we don't think the score will be that low, we like our chances of it staying under 48.5. Hopefully the total keeps rising as 49 or more would be nice. Michigan/Michigan State Under 48.5

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