College Football Moneyline Underdogs: Our 2 Favorite Selections for Week 9
Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Kenneth Walker III.
- Can Michigan State upset Michigan in a battle between two top-10 Big Ten teams?
- And how about North Carolina, which duels Notre Dame in South Bend?
- Stuckey breaks down these two games and why to consider these plays.
For the past four seasons on our college football betting podcast (now Big Bets on Campus), Collin Wilson and I pick our two favorite moneyline underdogs for each Saturday’s slate.
After splitting last week with a pair of short home underdogs, we are onto Week 9 with a pair of pups catching a bit over a field goal.
- 2018-20: 39-67 +5.1 units
- 2021: 5-11 -4.05 units
If you’re feeling lucky, a parlay of both pays 5.5-1 odds.
Wilson: Michigan State +160
- Spread: Michigan -4
- Over/Under: 50.5
- Date: Saturday, Oct. 30
- Time: Noon ET
- TV: FOX
- Location: East Lansing, MI
Both Michigan and Michigan State have made it to the end of October undefeated, setting up one of the biggest battles for the Paul Bunyan Trophy in the history of the rivalry.
Michigan is a methodical (100th in Tempo) run-based offense (67% rate) that does not ask quarterback Cade McNamara to do too much on Standard Downs.
Instead, they lean on running backs Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum — two of the best backs in the nation at creating missed tackles and gaining yards after contact. Both should find success against a Michigan State defense that ranks 66th in Rushing Success Rate and 91st in Stuff Rate.
Michigan hopes its ground game can keep the sticks moving and keep the potent Michigan State offense off the field.
Meanwhile, Mel Tucker has worked wonders in the transfer portal, specifically bringing in Kenneth Walker to lead its rushing attack. Michigan State is just as explosive on the ground as the Wolverines, but the differences between the two teams come in the passing game.
Jalen Nailor and Jayden Reed have outstanding numbers on deep balls with quarterback Payton Thorne, who has thrown three times as many big time throws as turnover worthy plays. Michigan’s offense lacks this element, especially after Ronnie Bell went down with an injury.
When you focus on the three common opponents for these teams in Nebraska, Rutgers and Northwestern, the Michigan State explosiveness edge on both sides of the ball is what sets these two fairly similar teams apart.
I think that ultimately proves to be the difference here in what I expect to be a defensive battle. The Spartans will hit a few more explosive plays on the day to pull off the mini home upset.
Stuckey: North Carolina +150
- Spread: Notre Dame -3.5
- Over/Under: 62
- Date: Saturday, Oct. 30
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: NBC
- Location: South Bend, IN
Notre Dame beat USC last weekend to improve to 6-1 on the season. However, it’s been anything but smooth sailing for the Irish, who were even outgained last week against the Trojans.
ND has gone a perfect 3-0 in one-possession games — all won by a field goal margin — and trailed going into the fourth quarter against Wisconsin before a number of non-offensive touchdowns blew that game open. The luck of the Irish won’t last forever.
Meanwhile, North Carolina has had a disappointing 2021 campaign compared to lofty preseason expectations. The Tar Heels sit at 4-3 on the season and have been a hard team to figure out on a week-to-week basis. Sometimes they look like world beaters. Other times they look completely lost.
That high variance nature is actually the profile you want with a moneyline underdog. The Tar Heels should come out fully focused for this one with revenge on their minds after getting embarrassed by a much better Notre Dame last season.
I think this game should be closer to a coin flip and don’t underestimate the impact of the loss of Notre Dame’s All-American safety Kyle Hamiton, who could go in the top five of the NFL draft next season.