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Michigan vs. Michigan State odds, prediction, betting trends for Big Ten top-10 showdown

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Michigan vs. Michigan State odds, prediction, betting trends for Big Ten top-10 showdown

No. 6 Michigan travels to No. 8 Michigan State in a Big Ten, top-10 showdown on Saturday. 

Kickoff is scheduled for 12 pm. ET at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich. The game will be televised on FOX. 

Michigan (7-0) is off to its best start since 2016 under Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines continue to win with a punishing ground game led by Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, and Aidan Hutchinson leads an improved defense. Michigan has won its last two visits to Spartan Stadium. 

MORE: Jim Harbaugh faces season-defining moment

Michigan State (7-0) is the surprise team of the season under second-year coach Mel Tucker. Wake Forest transfer running back Kenneth Walker III leads the nation in rushing with 142.4 yards per game and has emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and quarterback Payton Thorne continues to man an underrated offense. The Spartans upset the Wolverines last year. 

This is one of the more underrated rivalries in the country. Over the past 38 matchups, only twice have both teams come in unranked. Saturday will mark the 11th time during that stretch that both are in the Top 25. And the last 22 games have resulted in 11 wins on each side.

MORE: Walker, Hutchinson named midseason SN All-Americans

Both teams were unranked to start the season, so suffice it to say the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy looms larger than ever in 2021. With that in mind, here is all you need to know about betting on the Michigan-Michigan State matchup: 

Michigan vs. Michigan State odds 

  • Spread: Michigan -4.5
  • Over/under: 50.5
  • Moneyline: Michigan -210, Michigan State -168

Three trends to know  

— Michigan State has been the underdog in all six meetings since Harbaugh took over at Michigan. The Spartans are 3-3 S/U and 4-2 ATS in those games. 

YEAR SPREAD RESULT COVER
2015 U-M -7 MSU 27-23 MSU
2016 U-M 24.5 U-M 32-23 MSU
2017 U-M -10 MSU 14-10 MSU
2018 U-M -7 U-M 21-7 U-M
2019 U-M -13.5 U-M 44-10 U-M
2020 U-M -21.5 MSU 27-24 MSU

— Michigan has won the last two meetings at Spartan Stadium. The Wolverines are 6-1 ATS this season. Michigan is 18-4 S/U as a road favorite under Harbaugh. 

— This marks the fifth meeting with both teams in the AP Top 10. The Spartans are 3-1 in those matchups, which took place between 1956-64.

MORE: Top 25 picks against the spread for Week 9

Three things to watch  

Getty Images

— Smash-mouth football. Both teams are going to want to hammer the running game. Michigan averages 246.5 yards per game behind Haskins and Corum. Michigan State averages 200.4 with Walker. The defenses are near-mirror images against the run. The Wolverines have limited the Spartans to less than 60 rushing yards in four of the last six meetings, but Michigan State still won two of those games. 

— Michigan State’s deep-threat receivers. Thorne has had success in the vertical passing game with Jayden Reed (20.8 yards per catch) and Jalen Nailor (18.9). The Wolverines could not stop the deep ball in last year’s loss, but they have a new defensive coordinator in Mike Macdonald. Opposing quarterbacks have a 55.4% completion percentage against the Wolverines, and Hutchinson and David Ojabo have combined for 10 sacks. Will Thorne have enough time to push the ball downfield while keeping an eye on Michigan safety Daxton Hill? 

— Will Harbaugh turn it loose? Michigan State, meanwhile, has the worst pass defense in the Big Ten. Will that tempt Harbaugh to let Cade McNamara, who averages 17 pass attempts per game, to throw more early in the game to loosen up the defense? Will freshman quarterback J.J. McCarthy see a few more reps? Cornelius Johnson (20.1 ypc) and Daylen Baldwin (18.2) can get down the field too, but Michigan State has one of the best safeties in the country in Xavier Henderson. 

MORE: Bowl projections | Issues CFP committee will face

Stat that matters

The Spartans are 117th in the country in penalty yards per game (70.3). In a game of this magnitude, that shows up. Michigan has committed just four turnovers this season, too, so it’s on Michigan State to limit those costly penalties and create two-to-three turnovers at home in order to pull the upset. 

Michigan vs. Michigan State prediction 

There is a reason these two schools don’t like each other. They are virtually the same team. It’s going to come down to which team establishes that running game early, and it’s on Michigan to stay collected around McNamara on the road. That happened with quick starts at Wisconsin and Nebraska, and if Michigan can do that again they should be able to take over in the second half. Quirky things have happened in this rivalry in the past, but the Wolverines overcome that in a thriller that lives up to expectations. 

Final score: Michigan 29, Michigan State 23



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