Michigan State-Michigan Betting Guide: Will Spartans Keep Up ATS Dominance vs. Wolverines?

Michigan State-Michigan Betting Guide: Will Spartans Keep Up ATS Dominance vs. Wolverines? article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mark Dantonio and Jim Harbaugh

Michigan-Michigan State Betting Pick, Odds

  • Odds: Michigan -7
  • Over/Under: 41
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET
  • TV: FOX

>> All odds as of 7 a.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets

How much have these teams fluctuated in performance over the last few years? The Spartans are 7-point home dogs for this meeting, but that’s nothing compared to two years ago (2016) when they were +24.5 at home against the Wolverines. And in 2014, Michigan State was a whopping -17.5 point favorite at home.

Despite the roller coaster these spreads have been on, the Spartans have been the team covering no matter what. “Little brother” has won eight of the last 10 in this rivalry after losing six straight. MSU is perfect against the spread in the last 10 games.

How the Market Is Moving for Michigan State-Michigan

By Danny Donahue

Both sides are seeing a significant share of bets and money in this game, but the Wolverines have a slight edge in both categories, accounting for 54% of bets and 56% of money wagered. Since an immediate move from -6.5 to -7 on Sunday, this line hasn’t budged much at all, other than a five-minute appearance at -7.5 on Wednesday afternoon.

The over/under, on the other hand, has seen plenty of movement. Since opening at 47.5, it’s fallen down to 40.5, as the under has received 67% of money on only 31% of bets with poor weather and high wind in the forecast.

Trends to Know

By John Ewing

In games since 2005 when both teams are ranked, Michigan State is 4-0 straight up and ATS, covering by an average of 16 points per game.

By Evan Abrams

Since 2010, Mark Dantonio and the Spartans have been a ranked home dog just three times, and they are undefeated in those games.

  • 2017 vs. Penn State (+9.5), Won 27-24
  • 2011 vs. Wisconsin (+7), Won 37-31
  • 2010 vs. Wisconsin (+3), Won 34-24

In the last five meetings between Michigan State and Michigan, only their matchup in 2014 was within 10 points of the betting line. The Spartans covered all of those games.

Weather Report

By Stuckey

Under weather is in the forecast for Saturday. According to our data at Bet Labs, the under is 273-197-8 (58.1%) against the closing number when a game has winds of at least 15 mph.

Here is Saturday’s forecast.

  • Cloudy with occasional showers (60% chance of rain)
  • High of 48 degrees
  • Winds WNW at 15 to 25 mph

With two dominant rush defenses, both teams might be forced to throw the ball, which could be even more difficult than running thanks to the wind.

Key Injuries for Michigan-Michigan State

By Stuckey

Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary is questionable, although the likely first-round draft pick hasn’t been needed the past two weeks (which has he missed) as the Wolverines’ depth on the line is legit. Michigan should also get back defensive lineman Michael Dwumfour.

Michigan fullback Ben Mason is questionable, but that’s not a huge deal as Jared Wangler can fill in just fine, as he did in the second half against Wisconsin.

Michigan State has a number of key injuries worth noting:

Running back LJ Scott is questionable (hamstring), as is fullback Collin Lucas.

Wide receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. questionable — without Stewart, Sparty will be without two starting wide receivers as it lost Cody White earlier this month — but that didn’t stop MSU from winning in Happy Valley thanks to receiver Felton Davis. Wide receiver Jalen Nailor is also listed as questionable.

Starting right guard Kevin Jarvis is questionable and starting left guard David Beedle is out. The Spartans have been shuffling their offensive line all season.

Last Week Was Fluky

By Steve Petrella

Michigan State beat Penn State last week, 21-17, due to some incredible luck and general incompetency of the Nittany Lions coaching staff. But let’s focus on the luck.

MSU had 16 (!) passes defended, and passes defended result in interceptions just more than 20% of the time. Yet Brian Lewerke threw only one pick, when on average, he would have thrown four. MSU fumbled four times, and recovered all of them. Teams on average recover half their fumbles.

jim harbaugh-michigan-coach-fired
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jim Harbaugh

In all, Football Study Hall projects Michigan State benefited from 20 points (!) of turnover luck based on those numbers. That’s enough to swing a game, huh? The Spartans were outgained by 1.5 yards per play.

You never know when luck like this will even out — could be Saturday, could be next month, could be in 2019. But against an opportunistic and motivated Michigan defense, I don’t think the Spartans will get that streak of luck twice.

Michigan Will Establish Running Game

By Stuckey

Michigan ranks 13th in the country in third-down conversion rate at 49%, which dwarfs Michigan State’s 35.2% clip (105th nationally).

It’s not rocket science as to why: the Wolverines have a significantly more reliable rushing attack this season, which makes third downs more manageable.

The advanced metrics paint the same picture using different brushes. Just take a look at some of these drastic discrepancies.

Look no further than that last statistic, which means that Michigan faces third-and-short situations approximately three times more than Sparty does.

In a game featuring two elite rush defenses, Michigan should have more success on the ground on early downs. That will inevitably lead to longer, sustained drives for Michigan and third-down passing situations for Michigan State — which spells absolute disaster against this Wolverines defense that thrives on obvious passing downs.

Bet to Watch

By Ken Barkley

This is an interesting number, because everyone seems to intuitively know that Michigan has really struggled against ranked teams under Jim Harbaugh, and Michigan State has won this matchup quite often recently. You hear that narrative from many people and see it reflected (accurately and astutely) in the trends above. How can this year be different? Can it?

The short answer is yes. And most of that comes from the fact that this version of Michigan State is suboptimal in many ways. Its offense is in shambles due to injury, with starting wide receivers out, starting offensive linemen out and with Scott not even making the trip with the team to Happy Valley.

The Spartans have used their sixth different offensive line combination of the season. There’s no continuity here, and they were able to somehow eke out a win against Penn State despite averaging fewer than four yards per carry and Lewerke having a QBR of 22.7.

If Penn State was a challenge defensively, Michigan is in a whole different league. I would anticipate the Spartans having incredible difficulty moving the ball. On the other side, Michigan State’s run defense is ranked as an elite unit, but Penn State had a ton of success against it on the ground, raising questions about whether that ranking was simply due to the competition Michigan State had faced.

Michigan is going to want to run the ball effectively first and foremost, so the success the Nittany Lions had bodes well for the Wolverines in that department, too.

I would feel better about taking the Spartans if it was a larger number created by poor performance entering the game. But Michigan State just beat a top-10 team last week.

The Spartans aren’t really being undervalued here. We just saw Saturday’s upset. If this number dips below a touchdown because of the historical trends in the rivalry, I will be betting Michigan. At 7, it’s probably a pass in a low-scoring game with a low number of possessions.