College Football Picks: Michigan vs. Kansas State

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl gets a nice matchup of 7-5 teams both better than their records, but Michigan had just one loss by more than four points this season.

In what is actually a very nice matchup for what is generally considered a lesser bowl, the Michigan Wolverines (7-5) take on the Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl from Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ on Saturday, December 28th at 10:15 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Michigan as a small underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with positive odds of +100.

Personally we are not so sure that the right team is favored here after Michigan nearly became the first team in two years to beat Ohio State, losing the regular season finale 42-41 when the Wolverines went for a two-point conversion after their final touchdown with 32 seconds remaining and failed. Quarterback Devin Gardner passed for 451 yards in that contest and he could be the key to a Michigan victory here.

Kansas State will try to snap a five-game bowl losing streak, and Big 12 favorites have struggled in general in bowl games, going just 26-40-3, 39.4 percent ATS since 2000. Many times that is because the Big 12 plays no defense and the teams from the conference then struggle vs. better defenses during the bowl season. That may not be the case here though with the Michigan defense not much better than a typical Big 12 defense.

However, the Michigan offense does match up nicely vs. a Wildcats defense that has not been as good vs. the pass this season as it has vs. the run. Gardner did not become the Michigan quarterback until the middle of last season, as he was actually a wide receiver and a favorite target of Denard Robinson until the latter got injured. He has been the starting quarterback from opening week this year though and has gotten progressively better as the year went on.

You see, Gardner threw 10 interceptions over his first six games this season, but then threw just one more over the final six games. At the end of the day, he finished with 2960 passing yards while completing 60.3 percent of his passes and averaging 8.3 yards per attempt with 21 touchdown passes, numbers that would look good for any quarterback, let alone one that has been doing it full time for just a little over one year!

And do not lose site of the fact that while Michigan went 7-5, four of the Wolverines’ losses were by four points or less and the only big loss came on the road at the best defense in the country in Michigan State, the same Michigan State team that did snap Ohio State’s two-year winning streak in the Big Ten Championship Game one week after the Wolverines just missed doing so.

Meanwhile, Kansas State did not really finish the season that strongly while going 1-2 ATS in its last three games, losing at home to Oklahoma, just nipping TCU 33-31 and getting its only cover in that stretch vs. a bad Kansas team in an unimpressive 31-10 triumph as a 17½-point favorite. The Wildcats are led by the rushing of John Hubert, but the Achilles Heel of the Michigan defense has been defending the pass all year.

We are just not so sure Kansas State can take advantage of that with the 75th ranked passing offense in the country. The Wildcats used two quarterbacks this season in Jake Waters and Daniel Sams, and neither one was as impressive as Gardner despite both being much more experienced playing the quarterback position.

The bottom line here is that Gardner should be able to attack the Kansas State pass defense while the Wildcats, despite having an enormously talented wide receiver in Tyler Lockett, may not have the quarterback to get him the ball vs. the weak Michigan pass defense.

[gameodds]6/252350/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

College Football Pick: Michigan +3 (+100)

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