Miami vs. Michigan State College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: Your Betting Guide for Saturday’s Week 3 Battle (Sept. 18)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: D’Eriq King
Miami vs. Michigan State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Michigan State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Michigan State looks to remain undefeated when it travels to South Beach to take on the 24th-ranked Miami Hurricanes.
It hasn’t been the greatest start for Miami, which got blown out against Alabama on opening weekend and followed that up with a close two-point win at home over Appalachian State.
Manny Diaz’s squad was one of the favorites to win the ACC Coastal division, along with North Carolina, and needs a “get-right” game against a fellow Power Five school to get some momentum heading into its conference schedule.
The Miami offense starts and ends with D’Eriq King. King is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in college football and can torch opposing defenses with his dual-threat ability.
Last season, he averaged 8.2 yards per attempt, threw for 23 touchdowns compared to only five interceptions and earned a 90.6 passing grade, per PFF.
The key for King and the Miami offense is explosive plays. In 2020, King had a 6.4% big-time throw rate (ranked 25th in FBS) and only a 1.7% turnover-worthy play rate (T-5th in FBS), so he should be able to torch a Michigan State secondary that is projected to be one of the worst in the Big Ten after losing two starters.
D'Eriq King is letting it fly 🎯 pic.twitter.com/fIxEXQtI0L
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 27, 2020
King also gets the benefit of having his entire offensive line back from last season, which ranked 16th in havoc allowed. King hasn’t looked great as a passer through his first two games, throwing for fewer than 6.5 yards per attempt against Alabama and Appalachian State, but he was facing two top-25 secondaries in terms of coverage a season ago, per PFF.
He also has all of his top targets back from last season, so I think Saturday could be a breakout game for the Miami passing attack.
The rushing attack is a different story for Miami.
The Hurricanes lost one of their starting backs, Donald Chaney Jr., to a season-ending injury against Appalachian State, but still have their leading rusher Cam’Ron Harris, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry and had 10 rushing touchdowns in 2020. They’ll have a tough test against a top-25 rushing defense, so the offensive success on Saturday is going to be on King’s shoulders.
Miami’s defense got torched against Alabama in Week 1, allowing more than 500 total yards and 6.5 yards per play. However, it rebounded against Appalachian State last weekend, allowing only 4.5 yards per play to the Mountaineers.
Miami does lose two of its best players on the defensive line, but the unit still has talent, as the Hurricanes brought in Tennessee transfer Deandre Johnson, who had six sacks in 10 career starts in Knoxville.
They also have one of the best interior linemen in the ACC in Nesta Jade Silvera, who recorded 11 tackles for loss or no gain against the run in 2020, which was the second most in the Power Five. They should be able to shut down a poor Michigan State rushing attack.
The secondary was an issue last season, earning a coverage ranking of 81st, per PFF.
Bryce Young torched them in the opener for 9.1 yards per attempt and four touchdowns, but the unit rebounded against Chase Brice and Appalachian State last weekend, holding him to fewer than 200 yards passing and 5.9 yards per attempt.
They shouldn’t have too much trouble against Thorne, considering he’s more at the level of Brice than Young.
Michigan State is off to a 2-0 start after beating Northwestern and Youngstown State to open its season.
Year one under Mel Tucker did not go according to plan as the Spartans went 2-5 with Rocky Lombardi under center. After two straight wins to start this season, facing a good Miami defense will be a massive step up in competition.
Michigan State has Payton Thorne conducting the offense, which has looked better through the first two games. The Spartans are gaining 8.57 yards per play, when last season they only gained 4.6 yards per play. However, facing Northwestern and Youngstown State is not exactly murderer’s row.
Thorne has looked great in the first two games and has secured the job over Temple transfer Anthony Russo, throwing for 10.1 yards per attempt, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Thorne played in the final three games of the season last year against Indiana, Ohio State and Penn State, but wasn’t that effective, throwing for 6.8 yards per attempt and getting sacked nine times.
Michigan State’s entire offensive line is back, but it had a lot of trouble protecting the quarterback, ranking 78th in terms of pass blocking, per PFF. The offensive line was even worse in terms of run blocking, as Michigan State had one of the worst rushing attacks in the country last season.
The Spartans only averaged 2.7 yards per carry and ranked outside the top 100 in offensive line yards, rushing success rate and stuff rate. In fact, they only had one rushing touchdown last season, so if they can’t run the ball and are forced to rely on Thorne throwing the ball, that’s a recipe for disaster.
The bright spot of the Spartans’ defense coming into the season is their defensive line. They returned all but one starter and have an outstanding pass rusher in Drew Beesley, who earned a 82.8 pass rushing grade last season, per PFF, which was 19th among power five edge rushers.
The front seven also ranked inside the top 25 in rushing success rate allowed, defensive line yards and stuff rate a season ago, so they should be able to slow down Miami’s rushing attack.
The secondary, however, has some big-time issues. Last season, Michigan State ranked outside of the top 50 in passing success rate allowed, passing explosiveness allowed and coverage, per PFF.
The Spartans lost their starting corner, Shakur Brown, who had all five of the team’s interceptions a year ago, and starting safety Tre Person. Going up against one of the best quarterbacks in the country in King, who led Miami to a rank of 18th in passing explosiveness last season, could be an issue.
Miami vs. Michigan State Matchup Analysis
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Michigan State Offense vs. Miami Defense
Miami Offense vs. Michigan State Defense
Pace of Play / Other
This game is going to come down to the quarterbacks. Miami’s rushing attack is going to have some trouble going up against a Michigan State front seven that only allowed 3.9 yards per carry a season ago and only 3.1 yards per carry against Northwestern in the opener.
On the flip side, Michigan State has no rushing attack whatsoever, so comparing these two quarterbacks, King has a massive advantage over Thorne.
Miami vs. Michigan State Betting Pick
This is a perfect sell-high opportunity on a Michigan State team that has looked good against inferior opponents and buy-low opportunity on a Miami squad that has faced two really good teams to open their season.
Miami opened at -7 at DraftKings but has been bet down to -6, as 90% of the money is on the Spartans.
I have Miami projected as a -14.57 favorite and Collin Wilson’s PRO projections have Miami as a -11.7 favorite, so I think there is some value on the Hurricanes at -6.