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Michigan vs. Michigan State Week 9 Picks: Rivalry’s Biggest Game In Years

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Michigan vs. Michigan State Week 9 Picks: Rivalry’s Biggest Game In Years
Kenneth Walker III #9 of the Michigan State Spartans runs against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images via AFP.

The marquee college football matchup of Week 9 comes from the Big Ten as No. 6 Michigan visits No. 8 Michigan State for the biggest game in this rivalry in years. Let’s dive into our Michigan vs Michigan State picks.

This is the first time since 1964 that Michigan and Michigan State will face off with both ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press Top 25. No. 7 UM won that game. The last time they met when both were undefeated was in 2010 and MSU prevailed.

What makes this matchup even more shocking is that neither was ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 with Michigan coming off a 2-4 record in the shortened 2020 campaign and with head coach Jim Harbaugh on one of the nation’s hottest seats. Michigan State came off a 2-5 record last season in the midst of a rebuild under then first-year head coach Mel Tucker.

Michigan leads the all-time series vs. MSU 71-37-5 and is 21-14-2 in East Lansing. 

Here are my picks and predictions for the college football Week 9 matchup between Michigan and Michigan State (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Michigan vs. Michigan State Game Info

Date/Time: Saturday, October 30, noon ET
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Weather: 54 degrees, 42 percent chance of precipitation

Michigan vs. Michigan State Odds Analysis

Wolverines fans who were hoping this might get as low as -3 can keep dreaming because the spread has risen to 4.5 from an open of 3.5. Michigan is 9-1 straight up but 4-5-1 against the spread in its last 10 games as a road favorite of at least 4.5 points. Michigan State is 3-7 SU and 5-5 ATS in its last 10 games as a home underdog of at least 4.5 points. 

There is a chance for rain Saturday and that could help explain why the total has dropped from an open of 51 to 50.5.  The Over/Under is 4-6 in the past 10 meetings; it was set at 52 last year when Michigan State pulled off a 27-24 road upset.

Michigan vs. Michigan State Betting Picks

Michigan State +4.5 (-110) ★★★
Over 50.5 (-110) ★★★

SEE ALSO: College Football Week 9 Power Rankings

Michigan vs. Michigan State Betting Predictions

Michigan State +4.5 (-110)

Obviously, all seasons are different but that this spread is bigger than -3 shocks me. Michigan is just 2-11 against the spread in the past 13 meetings overall and 1-5 ATS in its past six in East Lansing.

I mean, who has Michigan beaten this season? Wisconsin? Nebraska? Keep in mind the Wolverines lost top wideout Ronnie Bell to a season-ending knee injury early on, and that’s going to start to matter as the schedule gets tougher.

If we want to look at common opponents, Michigan beat Rutgers 20-13, Nebraska 32-29, and Northwestern last week by a 33-7 count. The Spartans beat the Scarlet Knights 31-13, the Cornhuskers 23-20 in overtime, and the Wildcats 38-21. MSU has the advantage of coming off a bye week, and that’s a big advantage with some key players getting healthy. 

This marks the latest in a season that both teams will be undefeated while playing against each other. MSU is 10-7-1 against Michigan when both teams are ranked, including wins in four of the last five such matchups.

Harbaugh historically has struggled outside of Ann Arbor against ranked schools with a 1-9 record in true road games vs. ranked opponents. That win was in the 2020 season opener against what proved to be a vastly overrated Minnesota team. 

UM is 0-5 ATS in its past five games against teams with a winning record. Sparty is 5-0-2 ATS in its previous seven overall.

Over 50.5 (-110)

Wow, the oddsmakers really nailed this total because nearly every major computer model out there has this game finishing with 51 total points scored.

Clearly, this will come down to each team’s running game. Arguably the best transfer addition in the country this season has been Spartans RB and Heisman Trophy candidate Kenneth Walker III from Wake Forest. He leads the FBS with 142.4 rushing yards per game, rushing yards after contact (737) and carries for 10-plus yards (27). When he has rushed for at least 100 yards this season, the Spartans haven’t been threatened. 

Michigan uses a two-headed rushing attack with RBs Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins. Corum has hit triple-digit yardage four times this season and Haskins three times. They each had 100 yards in the same game twice. 

The Wolverines rank fourth in the Big Ten in allowing 116.6 rushing yards per game. The Spartans are sixth with 121.0 rushing yards allowed per game. That’s a wash. The team that has rushed for the most yards in this game has won it 45 of the past 51 years. 

I give the QB edge slightly to MSU’s Payton Thorne. He has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 1,701 yards, 15 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He ranks among the Big Ten and FBS leaders in passing efficiency (second and 17th, respectively, with a 161.96 rating). Michigan’s Cade McNamara has been much more of a game manager, completing 63.0 percent of his passes for 1,115 yards, five TDs and a pick. Thorne can win a game. Can McNamara?

The Over is 5-0 in Michigan’s past five road games and 4-1 in Michigan State’s past five at home.

Picks made 10/26/2021 at 1 p.m. ET.