Washington vs Michigan State Odds & Picks: Back Spartans in High-Scoring Affair
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Jayden Reed.
Washington vs Michigan State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Michigan State Odds|
-110o / -110u
A hot start for two Power Five programs will come to a head when Michigan State travels to Seattle to take on an undefeated Washington team.
The Huskies are under new management with head coach Kalen DeBoer and already have two victories straight up and against the spread.
Long gone are the offensively-challenged days of Jimmy Lake, as the Huskies are top-five nationally in Passing Success Rate and scored a combined 97 points against Portland State and Kent State.
A victory against the Spartans is sure to put Washington in the spotlight as a potential playoff team from the Pac-12.
Mel Tucker continues to cover the spread in non-conference action for Michigan State. Now 6-0 against the number thanks to big victories over a pair of schools from the MAC, Tucker will travel with his team having a number of injury concerns just a week before conference play begins against Minnesota.
The road trip is lengthy and the Spartans have a starting quarterback who has had plenty of miscues, though Tucker is not concerned about either factor.
The DeBoer campaign could not have started any better after the program hit rock bottom in 2021. The once offensively inept Huskies have turned into a scoring opportunity juggernaut.
Washington has scored a touchdown on all 15 drives that extended past the opponent's 40-yard line. With the transfer of Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr., the Huskies have gone from near dead last to the third-best Success Rate on passing downs.
The last two weeks have shown why Michael Penix is the QB in Washington.
He has my attention. pic.twitter.com/hnLFT5ge1x
— Christian Williams (@CWilliamsNFL) September 10, 2022
The offense has two wide receivers with at least 10 targets and a yards-per-route-run average over two.
The balanced attack also relies on a two-headed rushing attack from Wayne Taulapapa and Cameron Davis. Plenty of credit goes to an offensive line that consists of two tackles who grade in the top 22 nationally in Troy Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten.
There are not many questions for the Huskies on offense, but there are gaps on defense that could play a factor in Week 3.
Bralen Trice has been a one-man Havoc crew for the Huskies. The second-year edge has already tallied 14 pressures, twice as many as any other player on the defense.
Outside of the defensive trench getting in the backfield of Portland State and Kent State, there are troubling numbers. The Washington defense is outside the top 100 in Line Yards and tackling.
Coordinator Chuck Morrell will be heavily coaching technique prior to facing Michigan State, as the Huskies have recorded 29 missed tackles in just 126 defensive snaps.
Despite allowing just a single touchdown through two games, there are concerns on the defensive side of the ball.
Linebacker Darius Snow suffered a season-ending injury in the opener, while safety Xavier Henderson was on crutches at the end of the game. Both players were among the top four tacklers on the team in 2021, and Henderson isn't expected back for several weeks.
Both defenders were critical in defending the slot and free safety role, putting all eyes on Angelo Grose and Kendell Brooks in coverage against Washington.
The good news is the stability at the corner position. Chester Kimbrough already has a trio of forced incompletions and is graded as the 11th-highest corner in coverage through two games.
The bigger injury concern comes on the special teams unit and the offensive side of the ball. Jayden Reed was injured early last week against Akron, but was described by Tucker as "sore" in the Spartans' presser. Reed is second on the team in targets, but is also a crucial piece to the kick and punt return units.
This didn't count but Jayden Reed is still freaking awesome pic.twitter.com/eV7DVJ6zz2
— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) September 10, 2022
While injury concerns are in abundance with every unit, it's the play of quarterback Payton Thorne that has contributed to a point spread that has taken heavy action on the Washington side. Everything from happy feet to mechanics are to blame for his slow start.
Thorne had two interceptions against Akron and has more Turnover-Worthy Plays than Big-Time Throws through two games. The pressure-to-sack ratio and drops are on the same rate as Thorne's previous two seasons, but a crowded pocket has produced an NFL rating of 11.1 so far this season.
Washington vs Michigan State Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Washington and Michigan State match up statistically:
Michigan State Offense vs. Washington Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Washington Offense vs. Michigan State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||106||28|
|Seconds per Play||23.9 (29)||26.0 (61)|
|Rush Rate||58.4% (36)||49.0% (82)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Washington vs Michigan State Betting Pick
The early market was all on Washington and pushed the spread above a field goal.
There is reason to believe there will be plenty of explosive plays in this game. Although it was in the pandemic season of 2020, Penix Jr. lit up the Spartans' secondary for 320 passing yards and a couple of touchdowns.
DeBoer has limited history against Tucker, but game planning for the Spartans' defense is not new territory. Considering two of the best players in slot and safety coverage are not playing for Michigan State, a rank of 66th in defending Explosiveness on passing downs will be in play.
Tucker repeatedly stated the issues with Thorne aren't a worry against Washington.
The Spartans may elect to run right into the poor tackling of the Huskies with running backs Jalen Berger and Jarek Broussard. The pair have combined for 20 missed tackles and an average of four yards after contact this season.
The X-factor in the game is Reed, not just hauling in explosive passes, but in the return game. Kent State was able to generate explosive kick returns against Washington in Week 1, an indication Reed will produce highlights.
Expect fireworks with Washington falling just outside the top 75 against the explosive rush and pass.
Washington has not beaten a ranked Power Five team at home since 2001. The Action Network projects this game at Michigan State -1, ostensibly giving the Spartans the nod when betting the side.
However, the better value comes on the total, with Michigan State's injuries in the secondary and Washington's poor tackling grade. Look for plenty of highlights in what is projected to be a nail-biter.