Michigan State vs. Michigan Betting Odds, Predictions: 3 Bets for Saturday’s Big Ten Rivalry (October 30)
Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Nailor.
Michigan State vs. Michigan Odds
|Michigan State Odds|
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
This Big Ten battle is huge, as Saturday’s chapter of the Michigan vs. Michigan State college football rivalry will be the biggest in the historic rivalry since 1961.
Two undefeated teams in the top eight of the AP Poll will clash in the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy, producing an undefeated competitor for Ohio State. The game’s loser, meanwhile, will generate plenty of questions surrounding the head coach.
Rumors continue to circulate around Mel Tucker’s destination after the 2021 season. While the NFL remains an option for the second-year Spartans coach, the LSU rumors have gone full sizzle.
Following the path of Nick Saban, Tucker will first have to defeat Michigan to stay undefeated.
The knock on Jim Harbaugh is the bully nature against directional schools while wilting against the upper-tier of the Big Ten. The Michigan head coach made numerous coaching staff changes and is labeling this as an elimination game.
Both teams are looking for statement games, already playing three common conference opponents.
Thanks to the pandemic Halloween upset, the Wolverines are looking for revenge after losing outright as 21.5-point favorites last season. The Spartans will look to capitalize coming off a bye week and hope to bring surrender cobra back.
Tucker has been the ultimate transfer portal whisperer, bringing in a bevy of talent from other programs.
The biggest of those names is Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III, who leads the Spartans with nearly 1,000 yards while generating 62 missed tackles and 4.8 yards after contact.
Happy birthday to the 🐐 Kenneth Walker III pic.twitter.com/ibE5pz4adH
— Spartan Fan (@SpartyOn70) October 20, 2021
Similar to Michigan, the Spartans have stayed in standard downs for twice as many plays as passing downs, thanks to a running game that is 12th in Stuff Rate and top-40 in Line Yards and Success Rate.
The difference in offenses between the two teams is the Spartans’ ability to throw vertically. Quarterback Payton Thorne has put together three times as many big-time throws as turnover-worthy plays with explosive targets in Jalen Nailor and Jayden Reed.
Most receiving yards on deep pass attempts this season ✈️
1. Jalen Nailor, Michigan State (Week 6): 191
2. Jayden Reed, Michigan State (Week 2): 160
3. Jacob Copeland, Florida (Week 2): 152pic.twitter.com/qcF515cGBZ
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 11, 2021
Michigan State is 15th in expected points on passing plays, giving the Spartans the explosive plays needed to put points on the board.
As the offense has plenty of playmakers in gaining chunk yards, the defense has been one of the best in the nation in eliminating big plays. Out of 91 opponent offensive drives, Michigan State has allowed only three to be explosive.
The Spartans do struggle against the run, allowing opponents a Success Rate 10% above the national average on running plays.
The caveat is what defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton has been able to get when defending in the red zone.
Michigan State runs an exclusive 4-2-5 defense with a modest 24% blitz rate. A closer look at the blitz numbers shows the Spartans stunting against half of the 12 formation snaps opponents have flashed this season. Michigan is running 40% of plays out of the 12, utilizing tight ends to block for the running game. The Spartans’ success in blitzes on first down is vital to secure the cover and outright victory.
Harbaugh has been here before, as the 2016 season was the second of his tenure in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines started the season with nine straight wins before losing three of the final four games. Since the former Michigan quarterback returned as head coach in 2015, the home team has lost every game in this series with the exception of 2019.
The big questions are how did Michigan get to the end of October undefeated, and is it sustainable against Michigan State?
The offense has increased its usage of 12 personnel, using two tight ends almost exclusively on first down. Armed with a new contract, offensive coordinator Josh Gattis increased the tight end formation from 14% last year to 40% this season.
The result has been an exclusive rushing attack that ranks 13th in Success Rate.
The offensive line has shored up with the offseason departure of Joe Milton to Tennessee, as Cade McNamara leads a unit that boasts the best rank in FBS in terms of Havoc Allowed.
Rush is called on 67% of plays as the Wolverines are led by two running backs who average more than three yards after contact in Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum.
How sweet was this @blake_corum @UMichFootball jump cut?! 😍 pic.twitter.com/g9HojuA0Am
— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) October 23, 2021
The duo have created 68 missed tackles this season, as both own the ability to create explosive runs. The Wolverines will have plenty of success on the ground, as Michigan State is 66th in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and 91st in Stuff Rate.
The Wolverines will move the chains at a slow tempo, averaging 6% more than the national average in two-plus first-down drives and ranking 100th in plays per minute.
Where Gattis will get into trouble is Finishing Drives, as a rank of 52nd highlights Michigan’s tendency to settle for 10 field goals against 20 touchdowns on the season.
Getting to McNamara has been a strenuous exercise for Michigan’s opponents. The Wolverines have run 341 plays in standard downs compared to 150 in passing downs, but have managed 9% above the national average in Success Rate when behind schedule.
McNamara has a 6:1 ratio in big-time throws to turnover-worthy plays, showing confidence in a pressured pass attempt with a drop of just 11% in adjusted completion percentage versus a clean pocket.
Although passing downs are conducted in an 11 formation, Haskins and Corum have been utilized 35 times on third down for the 22nd-best conversion rate in FBS.
The plan for Michigan State is easy: Take away the run in standard downs and look get corner play on receivers Cornelius Johnson and Daylen Baldwin in long downs and distances.
There is a different attitude on the Michigan defense after the hiring of Mike Macdonald as the defensive coordinator.
The 4-3 defense is long gone, and the days of the 3-3-5 and 4-2-5 are part of the scheme under a new coach. Michigan has produced results on this side of the football, maintaining a top-10 rank in tackling, pass rush and Finishing Drives.
Michigan’s Dax Hill and Josh Ross hit Graham Mertz. Wisconsin’s QB getting checked out after taking the hit to his ribs
🎥: @CFBONFOX pic.twitter.com/2Lf4I54nBs
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 2, 2021
Michigan has toned down the blitz rate 9% since last season but has become more effective in just rushing four defensive players at a 70% rate. The pressure generated by four or less has allowed the Wolverines to maintain a high level in pass coverage, currently graded 16th by PFF.
Michigan State will offer the biggest test for the defense this season, as the Wolverines defense has feasted against a schedule of rush-based attacks.
Michigan State vs. Michigan Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Michigan and Michigan State match up statistically:
Michigan Offense vs. Michigan State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Michigan State Offense vs. Michigan Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||3||69|
|Plays per Minute||100||42|
|Rush Rate||66.2% (9)||57.7% (48)|
Michigan State vs. Michigan Betting Pick
There are three common opponents between these teams: Nebraska, Rutgers and Northwestern.
The Scarlet Knights had massive success on offense against Michigan, recording a Success Rate 17% above the national average on standard downs while doubling the rate for methodical drives.
Michigan State nearly doubled Rutgers in overall yards per play with one explosive play after another.
Both teams secured a field-goal victory over the Cornhuskers but had similar Defensive Success Rate splits against the Nebraska offense.
Michigan State allowed just one drive of 14 to be explosive against Nebraska, while Michigan allowed three drives to average 10 yards per play or more. On offense, Michigan did not post a single explosive drive and had just three runs over 12 yards.
Both teams stomped Northwestern, as turnovers assisted Michigan in securing an average starting field position at the 37-yard line.
Explosiveness is a central theme once again in the Wildcats box score against both teams. Michigan allowed Northwestern an explosive drive, while Michigan State didn’t allow any drives to average 10 yards per play or more.
The Spartans nearly doubled Northwestern in overall yards per play.
Hammering out those three head-to-head box scores gives a clear indication that Michigan State’s explosive plays will be a factor in this game. Furthermore, while the defenses have done an excellent job at preventing points, both offenses struggle in Finishing Drives.
These teams will line up and look to establish the run, which gives the Spartans the edge with chunk yardage by their skill players.
The Action Network projects the total at 51, but a slow tempo in combination with excellent coverage and ground-based attacks will put value on the under.
Projections on the side fall on Michigan -4, but with the head-to-head box scores in mind, Michigan State has the clear advantage in getting the ball vertically downfield.
Pick: Under 50.5 or Better | 1H Under 24 or Better | Michigan State +4 or Better
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