The Michigan Wolverines are set for one of the greatest rivalries in college football this weekend as they host in-state and Big Ten rival the Michigan State Spartans.
One could argue that in the past few seasons, the Michigan vs. Michigan State rivalry has become even more volatile than the Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry, as the Michigan-Michigan State games have been more competitive. At this point, the rivalries are on the same level.
The Big Ten finally kicked off their season last week. Michigan came out of the gates with an explosion of offense, taking care of the Minnesota Golden Gophers 49-24.
Michigan State did not fare quite as well in their first game of the season, losing at home 38-27 against Rutgers. The Spartans will try to right the ship this week.
Kick-off from Ann Arbor is scheduled for 12:00 PM Eastern on Saturday, and you can tune in to watch on FOX.
This matchup is a truly terrible one for Michigan State. The Wolverines have Sparty beat at every skill position and have an offensive line that is loads better. However, it’s matchups like this that get the favored team and bettor alike in trouble.
Looking past State to the next game against a ranked Indiana team would be detrimental to the Wolverines season. They must stay focused on their current opponent to avoid falling into a trap game.
After finishing 6-3 in conference play last season, Michigan and head coach Jim Harbaugh are dedicated to dominating the Big Ten this season. Three of the Wolverines’ losses came from within the conference last season.
To do that, they need junior quarterback Joe Milton to play lights-out all season. It was a pretty solid start for Milton in Minnesota. He completed 15 of his 22 pass attempts for 225 yards and a touchdown.
He added another touchdown and 52 yards on the ground. Milton is highly athletic, and the Spartans must keep him inside the pocket to be successful against this offense. If Milton starts rolling out and pulling the secondary out of coverage, Michigan State could be in for a long day against the No. 13 team in the nation.
Underdogs, But Underrated
The Spartans are likely not as bad as they looked in their first game of the season. They may not be quite the team that Michigan is, but they probably aren’t as bad as allowing nearly 40 against Rutgers.
Starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi had one of the most bipolar starts of any college quarterback this season. His 319 yards and three touchdowns through the air likely kept State in the game.
Unfortunately, Lombardi’s two interceptions and the fumble he lost took Michigan State out of contention for the win. He fumbled twice but was able to recover one of the two. Ball security is an absolute must for Lombardi in game 2.
Michigan State’s defense only allowed 3.8 yards per play, nearly a half a yard better than that of Michigan. 3.8 yards per play ranks 34th in the nation. Michigan’s 4.2 yards per play allowed puts them right behind State at 38th nationally.
Clean it Up
Since both defenses played reasonably well in their first respective games, turnover differential becomes the most important factor in predicting this game’s outcome. Both teams will need to limit turnovers to keep things close.
DraftKings has the Wolverines favored by a sizeable 24.5-point spread in this one. Rivalry games often turn into shootouts but also tend to stay close.
If you’re a money line bettor, we have to recommend you go with the offense with better ball security, which is Michigan. However, if you’re betting the spread, you’ll want to scoop up Sparty and the +24.5 points.
Michigan likely wins this game, but not in blowout fashion. The Spartans keep it within two scores.
Bet on Michigan on the moneyline and Sparty plus the points. Good luck!
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