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Michigan State vs. Rutgers Betting Odds & Pick: Spartans Remain Favorites in Big Ten Opener (Oct. 24)

Michigan State vs. Rutgers Betting Odds & Pick: Spartans Remain Favorites in Big Ten Opener (Oct. 24) article feature image

Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Elijah Collins.

Michigan State vs. Rutgers Odds

Michigan State Odds -10 [BET NOW]
Rutgers Odds +10 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -420/+310 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 44.5 [BET NOW]
Time Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
TV Big Ten Network

Odds as of Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and via Parx, which offers new customers a 20% profit boost + $500 risk-free wager on their first bet AND your bets automatically sync to the Action app. Learn more about BetSync here.

The Big Ten is back, and Rutgers will travel to East Lansing to play Michigan State in a matchup of debuting head coaches.

Greg Schiano takes over a Rutgers team that has finished last in the Big Ten East for the past two seasons. Luckily for him, he’s already rebuilt a Rutgers team that was in a similar condition the last time he took over.

For Michigan State, Mel Tucker takes over for long-time coach Mark Dantonio after a 7-6 season. The situation around his debut doesn’t come in an ideal manner, though, as he was a late hire in a shortened season.

Neither of these teams had prolific offenses in 2019. And with each experiencing a tumultuous offseason, there’s little reason to believe that either offense will be a team strength in the season-opener. Even at a low number, the under is the play here.

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Michigan State Spartans

After one season at Colorado, Tucker joins Michigan State as the first new head coach since 2007. Michigan State ranks 51st in overall SP+, 109th offensive SP+, and 14th in defensive SP+. The Spartans return just nine starters from their 2019 team, and those starters point to a team that will remain questionable on offense.

Four of the Spartans’ returning starters are offensive linemen. They allowed Havoc on 18.3% of plays in 2019, including 70 tackles for a loss. However, even with this strength, they ranked inside of the bottom 20 for rushing Success Rate and Stuff Rate.

The only other returning offensive starter is running back Elijah Collins, who led the team in rushing as a redshirt freshman. As a whole, the Michigan State rushing attack struggled, reporting a 36.2% Success Rate and ranking 113th in rushing plays of 20 yards or more. Collins individually ranked 22nd in rushing plays of 20 yards or more and 87th in rushes over 10 yards.

Defensively, the Spartans return four starters from a defense that allowed the 19th-fewest yards per game and the 25th-fewest yards per play last season. Defense wasn’t the problem for this team. The Spartans ranked inside of the top 25 in defensive Success Rate, Stuff Rate, and Havoc.

Arguably, the biggest question defensively is with the head coach, who comes from a Colorado team that allowed more than 30 points per game, but if he leans on the strength of the current roster construction in his first season, Michigan State will be a rock fight of a team that primarily wins in the low-20s.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Schiano will have a big job on his hands overhauling an offense that was among the worst in the country in 2019. Rutgers ranked second-worst in the country in points scored with 13.3 points per game with the second-worst Success Rate. Entering the year, the Scarlet Knights report the 19th-lowest overall SP+, ninth-lowest offensive SP+, and rank 53rd-worst in defensive SP+.

Returning starters may not be a positive for this team after finishing 0-9 in conference play. Nonetheless, the Scarlet Knights do return 76% of their offensive production and 79% of their defensive production. They rank 62nd in overall team talent composite.

Even after the release of the team’s depth chart, there remains a big question mark at the quarterback position. Artur Sitkowski and Noah Vedral are listed as co-starters, and neither inspires confidence. Sitkowski is a former three-star QB averaging just 4.7 yards per pass attempt, with five career touchdowns versus 20 interceptions. He played in 11 games as a freshman and just three as a sophomore and he represents the stable option.

Vedral is a former three-star QB who is now on his third college team. He has just 90 career attempts with one career touchdown and one interception. But Vedral’s career 8.0 yards per attempt points to a player with some extra upside. Still, neither quarterback appears to be an instant threat to turn the offense into a well-oiled machine.

Rutgers returns only two starters from an offensive line that was relatively average in 2019. The offensive line allowed Havoc on 20.2% of all plays, including 76 tackles for loss.

Arguably the most interesting player on the depth chart is the co-starter at center, Brendan Bordner, who switches over from the defensive side of the ball. What represented one of the relative strengths for a bad offense may be a major question mark in 2020.

Around the rest of the offense, the  players most likely to make big impacts are Isaiah Pacheco and Aron Cruickshank. Pacheco led the 2019 team in rushing and Cruickshank joins Rutgers from Wisconsin after exclusively playing as a returner for the Badgers.

Defense appears to be the strength of this team. Schiano’s historical strength has been as a defensive minded coach. His tenure at Ohio State may have ended poorly, ranking 72nd in yards allowed per game; but the Buckeyes ranked inside the top 10 in his two previous seasons. He spent the offseason rebuilding this team with transfers and recruiting, and the transfers should play an important role on defense.

Most notable among the transfers are Brendon White — who played meaningful minutes for Ohio State in 2018 — and Michael Dwumfour, who made 20 appearances for Michigan from 2016 to 2019. Both White and Dwumfour are listed as starters in their team debuts.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

The total on this game opened at 47.5 and has steadily dropped and betting options appear slightly limited. But that’s not scaring me away from the play.

The matchup of two bad offenses with strengths on the defensive side of the ball points to a game won in the teens and not the 20s. I’m taking the under at 44.5 and would play even lower.

Pick: Under 44.5 (Play down to 42.5)

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