College Football Picks: The Stakes are High as Oregon Visits Michigan State

David Lawrence

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 1:31 PM GMT

The Ducks beat Michigan St. in early September last season, & went to the CFB Playoff. There is no question that the winner of this year’s rematch will also be a good early pick to make the playoff.

Momentum
The Ducks scored a ton of points last week, but they also gave up over 40. Oregon is hoping that its defense learned a lot of lessons and can apply them this coming week on the road in what will be a hostile environment. Oregon has to be happy, though, that quarterback Vernon Adams seemed to blend in very naturally with the rest of his team’s offense. If Oregon can continue to score big, the defense just has to make a few plays to win games, not a ton of them.

Michigan State handled Western Michigan last week, but the Spartans gave up a kick return for a touchdown and allowed the Broncos to hang around way too long. This team needs to address issues on defense and special teams heading into Saturday.

 

Line Moves
The line favors Michigan State by four points in a number of places, but it has moved to 3.5 points at several other outlets, and that seems to be where the line should be established at this point. If there is downward movement with the line, it’s because of Michigan State’s injury situation, which will be explained below. It’s also because the Spartans got taken apart by Ohio State last season, and Oregon has the kinds of athletes and the type of style which can give the Spartans a lot of problems. When Michigan State goes up against a pro-style offense or an offense with more traditional formations and looks, the Spartans do generally dominate. As soon as they go up against teams with more modernized approaches, however, they can and do struggle.

 

Notable Injuries
Oregon lost running back Thomas Tyner for the season with an injury suffered earlier in August camp. Wide receiver Devon Allen is out indefinitely. Tight end Pharaoh Brown is out indefinitely as well. The Ducks have some limitations to their full offensive personnel groups. Defensive lineman Canton Kaumatule is questionable for this game. So is defensive back Charles Nelson as well. Wide receiver Darren Carrington is out indefinitely, and quarterback Vernon Adams, lightly injured last week, is probable – certain to play if we’re being honest, but the level of his efficiency is what truly bears monitoring.

Michigan State linebacker Ed Davis was injured and knocked out for the season in August camp. This is a huge loss for the Spartans, who were depending on Davis’ senior leadership to anchor that middle portion of the defense. This could be a significant reason to bet on this game going over the total. Oregon should be able to have considerable success doing what it wants to do on offense.

Also for the Spartans, linebacker Drake Martinez is questionable. Defensive back Mark Meyers is out indefinitely.

 

Handicapping The Game
The Michigan State defense might have one key injury, but Oregon’s offense is loaded with injuries. That, plus the fact that this game is a Michigan State home game, should lead to the Spartans winning by a touchdown. College football odds board show most places have this game at -4 on the but 5Dimes still has it at -3.5, so I’ll take it there.

College Football Pick: Michigan State -3.5 at 5Dimes.