Pick – Analysis
The movement of this line from the beginning of the season up to now has been fun to watch. Michigan State, who’s still undefeated, has dropped from No. 2 to No. 7 with mediocre wins the last couple weeks. Meanwhile, Michigan has been possibly the most impressive team in the country as of late with three straight shutouts and now a No. 12 AP ranking. Playing in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines are a -7.5 point favorite as of Monday at betonline Sportsbook.
The Spartans aren’t getting a lot of love in this spread because they’ve killed bettors this season with an 0-6 mark against the spread. Michigan, is obviously on the other end of that having allowed 14 points total in its last five Games.
No one expected the Wolverines to be this good in Jim Harbaugh’s first season, but they are destroying opponents at the moment, two of those being ranked at the time, including an undefeated Northwestern last week. Michigan is in a favorable position the rest of the way with MSU and OSU coming to Ann Arbor, while its remaining three road Games are at Minnesota, Indiana and Penn State.
This Game will be interesting for a number of reasons. For starters, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio has hated Michigan since his first year with the Spartans and he makes sure every player he recruits feels the same way. Because of that, Michigan State has covered in the last seven meetings between these schools, as well as winning six of the last seven. However, the last time these two met in Ann Arbor, Michigan walked away with a 12-10 win in 2012.
Michigan will try to employ its same strategy as the last few Games: a dominant defense combined with a solid rushing attack. Jake Rudock continues to struggle passing the ball, but that hasn’t mattered much when the other team doesn’t score. Rudock hasn’t surpassed 194 passing yards and only has 5 TDs and 6 INTs on the season. With a lead, the Wolverines like to pound the ball with De’Veon Smith (390 yards, 4 TDs) and Derrick Green.
Michigan State excels at defending the run, but its secondary is hampered by injuries at the moment, so Rudock could play a big part in this Game.
On the other end, the Spartans also have a number of injuries on the offensive line, but most importantly Connor Cook is under center. The MSU offense hasn’t been as good this year and that will have to change in this Game. Aaron Burbridge has been great and leads the WRs (560 TDs, 4 TDs), but it’s the running Game that will win this Game.
The Spartans haven’t been great running the ball at 4.4 yards per carry, but there have been plenty of sparks. Freshman LJ SCott has looked great (418 yards, 6 TDs) while fellow freshman Madre London (399 yards, 3 TDs) and Gerald Holmes will be used as well.
Will Michigan finally allow some points? One would assume so, but if MSU’s offensive line can’t patch together some regular starters, they could have some real trouble against this Michigan front.
The Spartans haven’t covered in six straight Games overall, but again, have covered in seven straight in this meeting. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have covered Four straight against a team with a winning record.
Our Pick – The past two seasons, Michigan State has won this Game by scores of 35-11 and 29-6. We mention this because, coincidentally, that’s the same type of ScoreOur model predicts this time around, only with the Wolverines on top.
If we were to rank the Michigan defense using yards per point numbers, they would be ranked #2 in the country with an off the charts defensive number of 28.7. However, we’re not ready to jump on the Wolverine bandwagon just yet as we have to consider their weak Schedule thus far. Their biggest test came against Utah and that was a 24-17 loss.
Not all that impressed with the Spartans either thus far and that win over Oregon not looking like much of an accomplishment at this point.
We’re going to go against Our model and call for this one to be a close Game that comes down to the wire. Michigan State +7.5