Big Ten Instate Rivalry Odds: Michigan State Spartans at (2) Michigan Wolverines

Amara Darboh has 499 receiving yards on the season for the No. 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines.
Amara Darboh has 499 receiving yards on the season for the No. 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan State-(2) Michigan
Time: 11 AM (CT)
Spread: MICH -24.5
Total: 53

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The No. 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines are a perfect 7-0, but it will still need to knock off Ohio State before claiming any sort of Big Ten dominance.

This week will not factor into that as the Wolverines host struggling Michigan State in a game which will air at 11 Central on ESPN. NCAA football oddsmakers have set the line 24.5 points in favor of the hosting Wolverines with an over/under set at 53 for the game.

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Michigan has not just been beating football teams recently, but sheerly obliterating them. The Wolverines have outscored their last three opponents 163 to 15. Last week brought a 41-8 pouncing of Big Ten doormat Illinois, and the week prior Michigan had more points (78) than Rutgers had total yards (39). This is a team that has been making fools of its opponents, and Michigan State will have to hope its instate rival does not repeat that scenario again this week in what likely still will not be a very close game.

Simply put, the Wolverines have done work rushing the football. Michigan has 1,800 rushing yards on the year with four Wolverines all having totaled over 300, and the team has 28 rushing TDs on the season through its seven games. Chris Evans leads the team in yardage at 416 on 49 carries, while also ranking No. 2 in yards per carry (8.5). Karan Higdon has rushed for 359 yards and the No.2 lead in TDs with six.

Khalid Hill has eight TDs on just 15 carries as a red zone specialist.

Amara Darboh has done the most work receiving the football. Darboh has 499 yards on 30 catches (16.6 yards per) and five TDs. Jake Butt has 310 yards on 26 catches with four TDs. The Wolverines have caught 129 passes on the season at a 12.3 yard per attempt average with 14 TDs. Michigan ranks No. 76 in passing yardage (225.9 per game) despite being a very rush heavy team.

The Wolverines are No. 10 in rushing yardage (257.1), and average 48.7 points per game which ranks them No. 3 in the nation. The Wolverines of course are the most dominant defensive team (perhaps in argument with Alabama), giving up just 10.0 points per game, the lowest among FBS D-1 schools.

Since its week 2 victory over then-No. 18 Notre Dame, the Michigan State Spartans have lost five straight, including losses to Indiana, BYU and Michigan. The Wisconsin and Northwestern losses are more forgivable. The Spartans have not really been competitive, either. Last week brought a 28-17 loss to Maryland, but the week prior Northwestern polished them off 54-40 and BYU won by 21 points.

The Spartans are giving up 29.7 points per game (No. 80) but offense has been hard to come by, too. MSU averages just 23.1 points per game, ranking No. 110. Its rush offense has been particularly paltry at just 155.3 yards per game (No. 87).

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LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes have both been decent in the backfield. Scott has 464 yards and a 5.0 yard per carry average and Holmes is good for 272 yards and 4.9 per. The pair has seven TDs between them. Outside of that tandem, however, is an awful lot of failure. The team still averages 4.2 yards per carry, but Tyler O’Connor has been good for just 1.7 yards per attempt on his 41 carries in addition to having thrown six interceptions and incurring 13 sacks.

Last week, O’Connor threw 13 of 21 for 281 yards and three TDs, but he had an interception and he rushed for negative-20 yards in the game. He has gone for -27 yards in the past two weeks and though his passer rating is 148, it is hard to make the argument that he has had anything resembling a good season.

Michigan should eat the Spartans alive, even if Scott and Holmes are of middling effectiveness.

The Spartans have had trouble putting points on the board against far lesser opponents, and provided the Wolverines do not suffer some set back in focus, this game should go just about how oddsmakers have projected it to. Heavily in favor of the Wolverines.

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