Michigan State Spartans vs. Michigan Wolverines Pick 11/16/19
Michigan State Spartans (4-5 SU, 2-7 ATS) vs. Michigan Wolverines (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 12
Date and Time:Saturday, Nov, 16 at 12pm ET
Point Spread:MSU +13/MICH -13 (Intertops)
Big games are best served late so while it’s good to see ranked teams play in the non-conference season, we also like the added importance of late season rivalries. Michigan has a date with Ohio State during the Big Ten’s rivalry showcase in a couple of weeks but the Wolverines simply cannot afford to look past Michigan State this weekend. The Spartans have an impressive 10-1 record against the spread in the last eleven between the schools in addition to seven straight up victories to mostly control the last decade of the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. The teams enter the week riding very different waves of momentum with Michigan State losing each of its last four while Michigan has a 5-1 mark since bottoming out against Wisconsin in late September. Michigan State has been a pesky foe for Michigan of late but the Wolverines will have the added advantage of extra rest as they come off a bye while the Spartans played a tough four-quarter affair against Illinois last week.
Now or Never
Things were off to a strong start for MSU after a 4-1 start but four straight defeats have them needing wins in two of the last three just to reach bowl eligibility. They stand a good chance to beat Maryland and Rutgers to get to that six win threshold and net another game but regardless of who that hypothetical bowl opponent might be, this Michigan game will be the most important and a win this weekend would be better than any victory in a low-level bowl. As the perennial little brother, Michigan State has been able to key on this game and rise to outpace Michigan in energy level on several occasions and this could be another chance to do so with the Wolverines a near two touchdown favorite. State is going to have to provide some sort of x-factor with Michigan clearly ahead on paper.
The Spartan offense will need a breakout performance if they stand a chance as MSU has averaged just 12.7 points per game during their four-game skid and rank 106th in points on the year, averaging 23.1 points per contest. Brian Lewerke is a capable QB but a 12/7 TD-to-INT ration and 55% completions haven’t been enough to win consistently. Lewerke came out of the Illinois game briefly last week but re-entered after showing no concussion symptoms on the sideline and was again assessed on Monday, again clearing the protocol. Elijah Collins leads the team with 715 rushing yards and five scores. Ball control has not been a strong suit for State in 2019 and Michigan is allowing just 114 rushing yards per game so Collins’ success, or lack thereof, could be a big factor. The MSU passing game is solid with Darrell Stewart and Cody White combining for 1,220 receiving yards but there have been few options outside that duo although TE Matt Seybert is second on the team with three touchdown grabs. The Spartan offensive line has done well in allowing just 12 sacks in nine games as one of the few silver linings on offense.
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Six Good Weeks
Things looked awful for Michigan after barely surviving Army in overtime at home and then the blowout loss at Wisconsin but Harbaugh and Wolverines have greatly turned things back around. Michigan nearly pulled off an upset during a Penn State whiteout and looked tremendous in a 45-14 win against Notre Dame. The defense has been a key in that turnaround with the Wolverines now 5th against the pass, 7th in total yards allowed and 11th in points allowed at 17.1 per game. They hold the opposition to 29% on third-down conversions, good for 6th in the NCAA and getting the offense some short fields has been key over this stretch. Shea Patterson is up to 12 touchdowns on the season against four interceptions and has added five rushing touchdowns. Zach Charbonnet leads the team with eleven rushing scores and Hassan Haskins has emerged as a nice change-of-pace back. He sits at 5.9 yards per carry and his role continues to grow with at least twelve carries in each of the last four games. Five different Wolverines have at least 20 receptions but none have more than 27 so Patterson has done well in spreading it around. Ronnie Bell leads with 460 receiving yards but has just 28 yards since exiting the Notre Dame game during the second quarter and remains on the injury report.
Just about every ATS trend goes in Michigan State’s favor if you focus on this series, including a 5-0 ATS mark in the last five at The Big House but the overall trends are not as good. MSU is 1-4 against the spread in the last five on the road and 0-5 ATS against the Big Ten while going 0-6 ATS when playing an opponent with a winning record. Michigan is just 1-7 against the spread in the last eight coming off a bye but are 5-1 ATS in the last six conference games. The under has hit in six of the last seven Michigan State road contests with the under owning a 10-3 mark in the last thirteen MSU games in conference. The under is 7-3 in the last ten in this series.
Getting in on Michigan’s side feels a bit weird given the recent trends associated with this matchup but mean regression is a thing in betting as it is in Fantasy and the Wolverines are better on both sides of the ball heading into this one. Lewerke and Patterson are likely a wash on skill but Michigan has the much better defense against the pass. Michigan State is tough against the run but I think Michigan has enough playmakers like Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones to get it done if State limits their ground game. I also like that this is not the game immediately before Ohio State so Michigan shouldn’t have issues with looking ahead. Expect MSU to come out hot with plenty of energy but Michigan should be able to survive the early charge and move ahead as the game goes on. It will be close but I like the Wolverines to sneak out an ATS win with a 31-16 straight-up win.
Ted’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Michigan
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