One of the best games around college football this weekend is No. 6 Michigan traveling to East Lansing to take on No. 8 Michigan State. If you enjoy seeing two teams play that absolutely hate each other, well you’re in luck with this one.
The stakes are as high as they can be, considering both programs come into this matchup undefeated. It’s almost like an elimination game in the regular season.
Whoever wins has a direct path to the Big Ten Championship Game and potentially the College Football Playoff, though the winner also has to get through a resurgent Ohio State team to get to both.
Both the Spartans and Wolverines can pass the ball, but their identity is through the run game.
Kenneth Walker III has established himself as a Heisman candidate with the season he’s had thus far. Through seven games, he has 997 rushing yards with nine touchdowns on 152 carries. All of those are career-highs, and he’s also had at least 126 yards on the ground in three of MSU’s last five games.
Michigan has a dynamic duo in its backfield, but it’s led by Blake Corum, who also should be a candidate for the Heisman. He’s come into his own as a sophomore and has 729 yards and 10 touchdowns on 116 carries. He’s also averaging over six yards a carry, which is one of the best marks in the country.
It’s going to be rocking in East Lansing, and not just because of Michigan coming to town. It’s only the fourth time in the last 50 years that these two teams will play while both are unbeaten.
Who will come out on top in college football’s game of the week?
For in-depth analysis of this CFB bet of the day and others, continue reading.
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Michigan vs. Michigan State Prediction
As much as I want to take Michigan in this matchup, Jim Harbaugh hasn’t shown an ability to win the big game when he’s needed to.
Harbaugh has had countless meetings against Penn State and Ohio State while his squads have been good, and it hasn’t mattered. Stopping the Spartans’ rushing attack is going to be a tall order, plus the Wolverines also have to be wary of Payton Thorne as well.
Thorne has enjoyed a stellar season as the MSU quarterback as he has 1,701 yards passing with 15 touchdowns to four interceptions.
Cade McNamara is going to have to come close to matching the level that Thorne will be at, and I’m not sure he can.
Just a couple of weeks ago against Nebraska, he finished with 255 yards passing with no touchdown and one interception in a 32-29 win. The Wolverines won in spite of him for that game, and that can’t be the case in this one. Overall, McNamara has just 1,115 yards passing with five touchdowns and one interception.
If Michigan State can create some splash plays on defense (as the team has all year long) and if the running game can continue to excel, then East Lansing will more than likely be partying after the game. I’m taking the Spartans in a close but medium-scoring affair.
Betting Pick: Michigan State 31, Michigan 27
Michigan vs. Michigan State Best Bets
Best Bet: Michigan State +4.5 (-110) at Caesars
I’ll admit I was surprised to see Michigan favored in this matchup, considering the game is in East Lansing.
The Wolverines have struggled the last few weeks, and even though they’ve come away with victories, it may catch up with them in their biggest game of the season. They only beat Nebraska and Rutgers by a combined 10 points, and those teams have a combined six wins on the season.
I expect the Spartans to cover as they’ve been pretty underrated throughout the season. Each test that has come up for them, they’ve passed and in a convincing fashion.
They’ll keep it close as both their offense and defense may be the most underrated units in the Big Ten. Mel Tucker will have his players fired up to play, and with the crowd on their side, this has the makings of a classic going down to the last possession.
Best Bet: Michigan State Moneyline (+170) at Caesars
We shouldn’t completely discount Michigan winning this game, but again, McNamara is going to need to have his best performance of the season. We all know the Spartans will sell out to try and stop Haskins and Corum.
The trick will be if McNamara can make some big plays down the field to Erick All, Cornelius Johnson, Mike Sainristil, etc.
With that said, Michigan State has a stellar defense, especially in the secondary led by safety Xavier Henderson. He has 60 total tackles (37 solo) with two sacks and an interception thus far. Look for him to make a big play on McNamara to swing the game in the direction of the Spartans.
Best Bet: Over 50.5 (-110) at Caesars
Taking over 50.5 feels too easy here. This is going to be a game where both teams will be able to score as the Wolverines have scored 30+ points in each of their last three games, while the Spartans have scored 30+ points in three of their last five games.
That said, the game could be under if both defenses can bring their respective A-games. Will some turnovers result in only field goals? Will there be long drives that end with no points due to a big stop being made?
These are important questions, but I still think these two teams will be able to put up a lot of points with the talent each has on offense.