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College Football Odds, Picks, Futures: The Team Total Bet to Make for Michigan State

College Football Odds, Picks, Futures: The Team Total Bet to Make for Michigan State article feature image
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Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Jayden Reed.

Another Friday, another future.

While we are still a couple of months out from the start of the college football season, it’s never too late to add futures to the portfolio as the calendar moves closer to the start of the season.

I will be releasing a breakdown of them every Friday leading up to the season. I will also be tweeting them out as I add them @kmalstrom, as well as putting them in my Action App profile.

This offseason, I’ve been highlighting my favorite team season win totals, division/conference futures and Heisman picks.

Last week’s installment featured one of the bigger surprise teams of 2021 — the Kentucky Wildcats.

Now, I’m here to break down the biggest surprise of last season: Michigan State.

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Tuck Coming

After starting 2-5 at Michigan State in the dreaded COVID-19 year, head coach Mel Tucker and company exploded onto the scene by finishing 11-2 with a win over rival Michigan, a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl trophy and a top-10 ranking.

Instilling hope into its fan base early on, Michigan State has shown no signs of slowing down, aggressively attacking the transfer portal to build as much depth as possible while bringing in a top-25 recruiting class.

Addition by Subtraction

Bringing back 68% on offense, per TARP, the MSU offense loses some explosiveness, as lead weapon running back Kenneth Walker III is now onto greener pastures.

Tucker has instead focused on bringing in a myriad of talent to surround quarterback Payton Thorne in what will be his second full year under center. Thorne finished last year throwing for 3,240 yards, a school-record 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while leading the Spartans to a Success Rate ranking of 62nd.

Payton Thorne finds Jayden Reed on 4th and 15 for the TD 😮 pic.twitter.com/leoOOhE5Xz

— ESPN (@espn) November 27, 2021

Thorne will have some familiar faces to throw to, as two of his top three targets at wide receiver return in Jayden Reed and Tre Mosley.

Reed led the team with 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Mosley added another 530 yards and three scores. Expect the Finishing Drives rank of 35th last season to improve, as the Spartans bring in impact transfer Daniel Barker from Illinois, who has hauled in 11 career touchdown receptions.

In an attempt to replace Walker’s backfield production, MSU adds two transfers in Jalen Berger (Wisconsin) and Jarek Broussard (Colorado), who earned a Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honor.

They will have plenty of opportunity to produce, as each starting lineman this season brings starting experience.

If Thorne can take the next step in his development and open the field with his passing, MSU has the opportunity to be a very problematic offense for opposing defenses.

Picking Up the Slack

While the offense willed Michigan State to success last season, it was the defense that nearly took it out. More specifically, the pass defense cause problems, as it was abused by efficient passing offenses like Ohio
State and Purdue.

After finishing dead last in passing yards allowed and 90th in Defensive Success Rate, MSU will need to find success if it wants to rival OSU for the Big Ten East.

The defense brings in Georgia transfer Ameer Speed to help immediately bolster the cornerback position, while seniors Xavier Henderson, Chester Kimbrough and Ronald Williams round out the rest of the secondary with seasoned experience.

MSU will look to once again cause Havoc in the backfield after finishing first in the Big Ten in sacks but 62nd in Havoc overall. The defensive line will once again be stacked with Jacob Slade and Simeon Barrow anchoring the middle and Jeff Pietrowski on the end.

While the middle still has question marks, Tucker has plenty of depth to play with to see what works as he focuses on fixing third-down efficiency and pass defense as the season progresses.

Verdict on the Spartans

It’s no secret I’m very high on Ohio State this year and think it may be one of the best Buckeye teams we’ve seen in quite some time. With OSU most likely running away with the conference, my focus for MSU will be on its win total.

But not its overall win total.

Instead, I’ll be investing in its conference win total of over 4.5, which can be found on DraftKings.

With Michigan State’s regular-season win total sitting at 8, I was in shock to see its conference win total at 4.5 and slightly juiced to the over. Action Network’s Collin Wilson has it projected at 6.09, nearly a two-win discrepancy.

With only Ohio State potentially looming as a two-touchdown favorite, MSU benefits from a fairly easy schedule with Wisconsin at home and expected wins over Minnesota, Maryland, Illinois, Rutgers and Indiana.

Pick: Michigan State Over 4.5 Conference Wins (-160)

Previous Picks: Miami Win Total Over 8.5 Wins · Miami to Win ACC Coastal (+150) · Alabama to Win SEC · Utah to Win Pac-12 (+400) · Utah Win Total Over 8.5 · UCLA Under 8.5 Wins · Kentucky Over 7.5 Wins

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