College Football Odds & Picks for Ohio State vs. Michigan State: Bet the Spartans to Cover on Saturday

College Football Odds & Picks for Ohio State vs. Michigan State: Bet the Spartans to Cover on Saturday article feature image
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Jamie Sabau/Getty Images. Pictured: Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

Ohio State vs. Michigan State Odds

Ohio State Odds -23.5 [BET NOW]
Michigan State Odds +23.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -2500 / +1000 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 59 [BET NOW]
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV ABC
Odds as of Saturday morning and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.

The No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) head to East Lansing, Michigan, to face the Michigan State Spartans (2-4) on Saturday in a Big Ten East divisional battle.

The Buckeyes are desperate to play this game in order to meet the required minimum number of games played for inclusion in the Big Ten Championship.

Ohio State didn’t play last weekend due to a COVID-19-related cancellation against Illinois. Prior to that, the Buckeyes got past then-No. 9 Indiana, 42-35.

The Buckeyes still have some question marks surrounding their availability due to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. Head coach Ryan Day will not travel with the team due to a positive COVID-19 test. That said, Ohio State will also have less time to prepare because of these issues.

On the other side, Michigan State upset No. 8 Northwestern last weekend at home in a 29-20 shocker.

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Historically, this marks the 49th meeting between the teams, with Michigan State not beating Ohio State at Spartan Stadium since the turn of the century.

Look for the Buckeyes to try to make a statement to the committee against a Spartan team that can rise to the occasion.

Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes have one of the top offenses in the country, led by quarterback Justin Fields. The junior has thrown for 1,208 yards, 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Fields’ aerial attack is complemented by sophomore running back Master Teague, who is averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

Ohio State has an Offensive Predicted Points Added (PPA) per play of 0.42, which is sixth-best in FBS. The Buckeyes allow Havoc on 15% of plays relative to an FBS average of 17 percent. Bottom line, there are no two ways about it. Ohio State is a powerhouse offense and stopping it will be a tall order.

The Buckeyes’ defense has been its weakness, allowing an average of 26 points per game. The Buckeyes are ranked 54th in FBS total defense, allowing 389.8 yards per game.

However, they have an even-worse defensive PPA per play of 0.22, ranking 91st in FBS. They’re sandwiched between Texas Tech and Arkansas State in that advanced metric.

The defense generates Havoc on 20% of plays, which is better than the FBS average and ranks it 32nd in the category. The defense will look to batten down the hatches after allowing 35 points to Indiana in its last outing.

Michigan State Spartans

The host comes into this game riding high on the upset win over No. 8 Northwestern. Quarterback Rocky Lombardi will have to limit mistakes to keep this one close. Lombardi has thrown for eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Spartans are ranked 116th in yards per play allowed.

Michigan State has an offensive PPA per play of 0.02, ranking it 121st in the FBS category The Spartans will have to find a way to generate offense to keep it close, with protecting Lombardi being one of the keys to success.

The Michigan State defense has been a bright spot. It has been stellar in both wins this season, allowing 24 points to Michigan and 20 points to Northwestern. The defense is 12th in yards per play allowed and 18th in defensive PPA, which are right in line. The defense needs a strong showing to have any chance of covering the number.

Betting Analysis & Pick

The Buckeyes come into this game with COVID-19 problems. It’s not clear who will be able to go for them and how much in-person prep time they’ve had.

My model has the Spartans as 10-point underdogs, based on their defense’s strength and ability to add points through the passing game. It helps Michigan State that Ohio State’s weakness is its passing defense.

Michigan State will need to throw the ball in this game to get around Ohio State’s stout defensive line, while the Buckeyes will likely have to do the same. I expect Ohio State to win this game behind Fields and his superior talent, but 24 points is too many for me in this contest.

Pick: Michigan State +24.

[Bet on Michigan State at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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