Michigan to Cover -4.5 vs. Utah for College Football Picks

Darin Zank

Thursday, September 18, 2014 4:09 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 18, 2014 4:09 PM UTC

The last time Utah played Michigan the Utes pulled an upset at the Big House. Do they have a repeat performance in store for Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor (3:30 pm ET, ABC/ESPN2)? Here's our take on what might happen, and a free college football pick, because what good would we be without one?

The Betting Odds
As of Thursday morning most college football odds were chalking Michigan at -4.5, but some shops were offering Utah at +5. The Wolverines could also be gotten at around -200 on the college football betting money line, with the Utes getting +170 to win this game outright.

And the total was proffered at right around 56.

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Game Set-Up
Michigan is 2-1 this season, 1-2 ATS. The Wolverines opened with a 52-14 over FCS Appalachian State, covering as 28-point favorites. But Michigan then got embarrassed in a 31-0 loss at Notre Dame, whiffing on the spread as four-point dogs. And last week the Wolverines beat Miami-Ohio 34-10 but could not cover at -31.

Michigan out-gained the Redhawks 460-198 and out-rushed them 276-33, but also turned the ball over three times, leading directly to 10 Miami points.

The Wolverines have now turned the ball over eight times already this season.

In some good news, though, the Michigan defense has allowed just 80 yards per game rushing this season.

Michigan returned 15 starters this year from a team that went 7-6 last year. Seven starters were back o offense, including senior QB Devin Gardner and three along the O line, and eight starters came back on defense.

Gardner has completed 68 percent of his throws this season, with five TD passes, but also four interceptions. The Wolverines actually out-gained and out-rushed the Irish a couple weeks ago, but Gardner threw three interceptions.

Utah, meanwhile, is off to a 2-0 start both SU and ATS. The Utes opened with a 56-14 victory over FCS Idaho State, covering as a 40-point favorite. Utah then destroyed Fresno State 59-27, easily covering at -13.

The Utes had last week off.

Utah out-gained the Bulldogs two weeks ago 526-338, out-rushed them 258-55 and went 8/17 on 3rd-down conversions. The Utes had the point spread covered 10 minutes into that game, and never looked back.

Utah returned 12 starters this year from a team that went 5-7 last year. Six starters came back on offense, including junior QB Travis Wilson, last year's leading rusher and receiver and three along the offensive line. And six starters returned on defense.

Wilson, who's got 18 career starts under his belt, has thrown just 38 passes so far this season, completed 24, but six have gone for scores, with zero interceptions.


When Last They Met
It probably means absolutely nothing as far as handicapping this game goes but the last time these teams met Utah came into the Big House and beat Michigan 25-23 back on opening weekend 2008.


Utes-Wolverines Betting Trends
Utah is 4-0 ATS in its last four games against the Big Ten.
Michigan is 0-8 ATS in its last eight games against the Pac-12 (Pac-10).


Free NCAAF Pick
This should be a good, tough game, but Michigan and Coach Hoke really need this one. A loss in this spot might cause a minor revolt in Ann Arbor. So in thinking the Wolverines have the better chance to win the battle of the ground games we'll take 'em, at the -4.5 points offered at Pinnacle, for our free college football pick

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