NCAAF Odds, Picks & Predictions for East Carolina vs. Michigan
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Michigan’s JJ McCarthy.
East Carolina vs. Michigan Odds
The No. 2 Michigan Wolverines open their season at home against East Carolina.
The Big Ten champion of the past two years is on a quest to return to the College Football Playoff and has hopes of claiming the school’s first national title since 1997.
Meanwhile, the Pirates have made back-to-back bowl games under coach Mike Houston, but will be replacing a lot of pieces from those successful teams.
Even with this lopsided spread, I still believe Michigan will be too much in this contest. There's great betting value in backing the Wolverines at The Big House.
Coach Houston has been very successful since arriving in Greenville, North Carolina. However, this will be his best job yet if he's able to secure another winning season.
The roster departures from a season ago are numerous, starting with veteran quarterback Holton Ahlers. The four-year starter ended his career with 10 program and six American Athletic Conference records to his name.
A 1,400-yard rusher and a pair of wide receivers who combined for over 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns are also gone, as are four of five offensive line starters.
On the defensive side of the ball, there are also holes to fill. Eight of the top 12 tacklers from last season are no longer on the roster. The Pirates have brought in defensive transfers from the portal, but it may take time to gel as a new unit.
When you add it all up, ECU comes into the year ranked 128th in returning production. This could be the end of the Pirates' bowl streak.
Expectations couldn't be any higher for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines. This is his most experienced team at Michigan, and after consecutive conference titles, fans are dreaming of a national championship.
Even with all of the familiarity with the roster and coaching staff, there's a small disruption in game planning for this game, as the university announced a self-imposed, three-game suspension for Harbaugh.
Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, who's in his second season at Michigan, will serve as the head coach against ECU.
Luckily for the Wolverines, they'll be heavy favorites in their first three games — against ECU, UNLV and Bowling Green — which was likely part of the thinking when Harbaugh's suspension was announced.
On the field, Michigan returns 15 starters, headlined by quarterback J.J. McCarthy and the dynamic duo at running back in Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards.
With six of its top seven tacklers still on campus, Michigan boasts an elite roster that's ready for another run to the CFP.
East Carolina vs Michigan
Betting Pick & Prediction
The massive discrepancy in returning production leads me to one side in this game, but I believe there's a better way to bet on Michigan than to back a spread north of five touchdowns.
My best bet is for the Wolverines to cover the first quarter spread of -7.5 (-120 at FanDuel), which I would bet to -9.5.
Whether it's Mason Garcia or Alex Flinn under center for ECU, neither has started a collegiate game. ECU will be asking one of them to stand behind a new offensive line and a fresh set of weapons, which doesn't bode well for a hot start.
This bet also minimizes Harbaugh's suspension, as he'll be able to script his team’s first few drives prior to the game.
Additionally, this was a profitable bet for the Wolverines last season against similar opposition. In their three non-conference games against Colorado State, Hawaii and Connecticut, Harbaugh’s team went 3-0 against the first-quarter line and outscored opponents 48-0.