Michigan State vs. Wake Forest Odds, Picks, Predictions: Can Spartans Cover Spread in 2019 Pinstripe Bowl

Michigan State vs. Wake Forest Odds, Picks, Predictions: Can Spartans Cover Spread in 2019 Pinstripe Bowl article feature image
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Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Michigan State celebration

  • Michigan State is a 4-point betting favorite over Wake Forest in the latest 2019 Pinstripe Bowl odds.
  • The Spartans offense has been a mess all year, while the Demon Deacons have a dynamic quarterback and wide receiver that operate their offense at a lightning-fast pace.
  • See our experts' betting picks and predictions for Michigan State vs. Wake Forest below.

Michigan State vs. Wake Forest Odds, Picks

  • Odds: Michigan State -4
  • Over/Under: 50
  • Moneyline: MSU -190, Wake +155
  • Time: Friday, 3:20 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • Location: New York, N.Y.

It feels like years ago that Michigan State was contending for New Year’s Six bowls on a regular basis. The Spartans even reached the College Football Playoff in 2015.

But that’s not where Michigan State is now. The Spartans find themselves at 6-6 in the Pinstripe Bowl against Wake Forest, and needed consecutive wins to end the year to get bowl eligible.

MSU will take on a Wake Forest team with a dynamic passing offense that runs a lightning fast pace.

Who will win out in this clash of styles? Let’s break it down.


Odds as of Friday morning and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.


2019 Pinstripe Bowl Line Movement

Michigan State opened at -3.5, got as high as -4.5, and has fallen back to -4. The bets are about even, but almost two-thirds of the money wagered has come in on the Spartans. — Steve Petrella

When Wake Forest Has the Ball

The Michigan State defense wasn’t quite as dominant as last season (losing preseason All-American LB Joe Bachi to a suspension earlier in the season didn’t help) but it was still a top 25 unit in college football. The defensive line is downright nasty and helped the Spartans rank No. 1 in the nation in Line Yards, No. 6 in Stuff Rate and No. 7 in Rushing Success.

While not quite as dominant as last year’s rush defense that finished No. 2 overall at a minuscule 2.6 yards per carry, the Spartans still ranked in the top 15 at 3.3 yards per pop.

Don’t expect Wake Forest to get much going on the ground. The Demon Deacons rank 120th in rushing success rate and only averaged 3.9 yards per carry (95th in FBS).

What you should know about the Wake Forest offense is it runs a read option scheme that is slow to develop, but quick-hitting after Newman makes his decision at the mesh point.

What’s not slow developing is Wake Forest after the play, as the Deacs rank No. 1 in plays per game and tied for No. 5 in plays per second. Their fast pace could negate some of the advantages Michigan State has on the interior and limit some of Sparty’s ability to rotate along that defensive line.

The passing offense for Wake was one of the most underrated in the nation, ranking 17th in passing success while also finishing in the top 50 in explosiveness.

However, while Wake should have WR Scotty Washington back from injury for this bowl, it will be without star WR Sage Surratt, who was lost for the year with a shoulder injury. He will play at the next level and eclipsed 1,000 yards in just nine games.

His frame and presence on the outside will be sorely missed against a Michigan State pass defense that has been good but not great. Stuckey

When Michigan State Has the Ball

There isn’t much positive to say about the Michigan State offense. The problems all start up front along an offensive line that has been decimated all year by injury, which has just crushed the continuity in front of Brian Lewerke.

As a result, a group of young backs haven’t had any holes to run through and couldn’t generate anything on their own. Sparty ranks 123rd in the nation in yards per rush at a meager 3.5.

The passing game hasn’t been much better although potentially getting receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. could help. The Wake Forest defense is nothing to write home about and gives up a ton of explosive plays, but can this Michigan State offense take advantage?

To best describe this Michigan State team, just look at its yards per play statistics. Sparty ranks bottom 25 in yards per play on offense (5.1) while sitting in the top 25 in yards per play allowed at an almost identical 5.0. Can the time off help with some of the issues along the offensive line? That’s certainly possible. Stuckey

Special Teams Edge, Wake Forest

In a game that should be close, the X-factor could be special teams as Wake Forest was very solid in this department (36th SP+) while Michigan State struggled mightily in the third phase (114th SP+).

The biggest key could be Wake Forest kicker Nick Sciba, who ended his freshman campaign in 2018 with 50 consecutive extra points and 11 field goals made.

And what did he do this year? Made all 45 extra points and 24-25 field goals. Sciba even set an NCAA record this season with 34 straight field goals made. He’s nearly automatic, while Michigan State’s Matt Coughlin went 20 for 29 this year.

That said, my numbers make this closer to Michigan State -6, so I will be looking to see if I can get Sparty -3 pregame or something better than that live. I think their offense will look much better (assuming Stewart is a go) after some time off to work on some things and against a subpar Wake Forest defense. And I think the Michigan State senior-laden defense will show up in a major way. Stuckey

Miller: Two Programs Heading in Opposite Directions

As so often happens during bowl season, the Pinstripe Bowl features two programs heading in opposite directions. There have been rumors out of East Lansing that Mike Dantonio’s days as the Michigan State head coach may be numbered. Though he’s denied these rumors, there will certainly be changes to his staff this offseason.

Meanwhile, Dave Clawson has Wake Forest in a bowl game for a school record fourth straight time. The arrow seems to be trending up for the Demon Deacons while Michigan State is in quite a bit of turmoil.

I make Michigan State a one-point favorite in this game, so I see a good amount of value in the current number. Wake Forest’s special teams edge could be a big factor in a game that will be close and evenly matched.

Starting quarterback Jamie Newman and receiver Scotty Washington have been cleared to play. I see Wake as the more motivated, better trending program so I’m looking to back the Deacs in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Pick: Wake Forest +4