By Dan Kilbridge | | 7 mins
Michigan vs. Michigan State Predictions, Picks & Betting Preview
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One thing is clear ahead of Saturday’s Michigan-Michigan State game at Spartan Stadium – the in-state rivals have the nation’s attention.
ESPN College GameDay, FOX Big Noon Kickoff and Barstool Sports Tailgate Show will all be live from East Lansing, where the Spartans and Wolverines are set to meet with records of 7-0 or better for the first time in the history of this rivalry.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, the fanbases have been on edge for weeks and college football betting fans have plenty to consider.
Michigan is a -4.5 favorite and the total is set at 50 at most betting sites for what might be the biggest game ever in a series dating back to 1898. Both teams are 4-0 in the Big Ten and set to play Ohio State later in the season, with the Buckeyes still a big betting favorite to win the conference at -250.
The Wolverines owned this rivalry for decades and act as though they still do. That hasn’t been the case for a long time. Michigan State has won nine of the last 13 matchups and beat Michigan outright in Ann Arbor as a +21.5 underdog. That shut down any talk that the rivalry was about to take a turn for the worse in East Lansing under new coach Mel Tucker, but the oddsmakers are leaning toward the Wolverines yet again.
This is always a high-intensity game no matter the records, but the Wolverines and Spartans are about to turn it up to 11 in front of a packed house with everything on the line.
Let’s take a deeper look at this conference matchup and what it means from a betting perspective.
All odds are current as of publication. Sports betting apps may indicate odds changes closer to kickoff.
Michigan vs. Michigan State Key Matchups
Kenneth Walker III vs. Michigan Front Seven: This Spartan offense is dangerous when running back and breakout Heisman candidate Kenneth Walker III has a little bit of room to work with. Nebraska and Indiana came close to beating the Spartans by holding them under three yards per carry, and Michigan needs to do the same if they want to pull off the road win. Walker III will need to keep fighting for tough yards as he has all season, creating plays and shaking defenders. This isn’t the best Spartan offensive line we’ve seen in a while, but it’s not terrible. Michigan’s run defense is above-average, but it’s not elite. The Spartans are all about explosive plays, but they need to sustain drives and set up the play-action in the first half. That starts up front with Walker.
Cade McNamara vs. Michigan State DBs: The Wolverines were extremely run-heavy early this season. Now they’re starting to let quarterback Cade McNamara toss it around a little bit. He’s attempted at least 27 passes in each of their last three games after throwing no more than 17 passes in the first four games. They still don’t chuck it deep very often, with the majority of throws released quickly trying to get guys in space. Michigan has the No. 1 rushing offense in the Big Ten and will surely have some success on the ground. That’s fine for the Spartans as long as they don’t let McNamara get too comfortable in the pocket. The Wolverines don’t really have a stud go-to receiver, and Michigan State’s defensive backs need to give the front seven a chance to get into the backfield and try to disrupt the timing routes. Making Michigan more one-dimensional, like they were in the opening months, would be huge for the Spartans.
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4 Key Stats For Michigan vs. Michigan State
253.3: Rushing yards per game for the Wolverines, best in the Big Ten and fifth-most in the country.
6.96: Yards per play for the Michigan State offense, eighth-most in the nation.
17: Consecutive road losses for the Wolverines against top-15 opponents since 2006.
57: Years since the Spartans and Wolverines were both ranked inside the top 10 entering this matchup, a 17-10 win for Michigan back in 1964.
Michigan vs. Michigan State Weather Forecast
We’re keeping a close eye on this forecast. As of midweek, it looks like partly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 50s for the noon kickoff. But there is a chance of rain at some point, with storms currently projected to narrowly miss East Lansing.
Michigan vs. Michigan State Moneyline
Michigan is currently a -195 moneyline favorite. The Wolverines have won two straight games at Spartan Stadium, but they lost four in a row in East Lansing from 2009-2014. Michigan State is a +165 underdog and coming off a bye week, so the Spartans will also have the rest advantage here.
These college football odds would probably be closer if the Spartans hadn’t won so ugly at Indiana. It also points to oddsmakers’ hesitancy to strongly value a Michigan State team that gets it done with big chunk plays more often than long, sustained drives.
Given the recent history and the specifics of this matchup, along with an extra week for the Spartans to heal lingering injuries, we love the value on Michigan State at +165 at DraftKings as the Spartans are being overlooked yet again on rivalry week.
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Michigan vs. Michigan State Point Spread
The Wolverines are favored by -4.5 and you already know where we stand here. Give us the points.
Michigan State has weaknesses and this looks like one of Harbaugh’s better Wolverine teams. But, first, credit to second-year Spartan coach Mel Tucker. He made a huge talent upgrade in the offseason thanks to the transfer portal, the results of which are clear on gameday. The Spartans have playmakers all over the field. It used to be that Michigan State needed its best performance of the season to beat Michigan, but that’s not true anymore. They have a lot of guys who can cover mistakes and create instant momentum on any snap.
The atmosphere at Spartan Stadium will be borderline out of control. Michigan hasn’t played there since 2018 and tensions will be at an all-time high when these teams hit the field.
If the stats slightly favor Michigan, all the intangibles are on Michigan State’s side. We’ll gladly take +4.5 points for this one at BetMGM.
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Michigan vs. Michigan State Total
We don’t have a strong opinion on the total with weather still up in the air. We’d lean Over if the skies stay clear and Under if it gets wet in East Lansing, but we’re backing off either way.
The Under is 4-3 on the year for both teams and the Spartans and Wolverines are each top-20 in scoring defense. But these are capable offenses as well and the total will likely come down to things like turnovers, field position, wind, etc. – factors we’d rather stay away from Saturday as we settle in for what should be a special and unpredictable afternoon in East Lansing.
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