Michigan Wolverines’ 2014-15 College Football Betting Preview

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Monday, June 16, 2014 5:13 PM GMT

Monday, Jun. 16, 2014 5:13 PM GMT

Examining what could be Brady Hoke’s last year as top Wolverine, this article is a college football betting preview of the 2014-2015 Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan Wolverines’ 2014-2015 College Football Betting Preview
“We must protect this house!” Perhaps Michigan’s head football coach, Brady Hoke, got that slogan too deeply embedded into his thinking. It appears no one told Hoke that Michigan also needs to win games on the road. Hoke’s Wolverines are 19-2 straight-up (SU) and 14-7 against-the-spread (ATS) at Home. That is a phenomenal football and betting record. When away from The Big House, however, they are just 7-11 SU and 7-10-1 ATS. If you coach at Michigan, that record can get you fired. If you bet on Michigan, that (Away) record will lose you money. Examining what could be Brady Hoke’s last year as top Wolverine, this article is a college football betting preview of the 2014-2015 Michigan Wolverines.


Michigan’s Brady Hoke ATS
As Brady Hoke enters his fourth year as THE Michigan Man, he carries a profitable 55.26% overall ATS winning record at UM with him. That figure might be misleading, however, since Hoke’s Wolverines are just 50% ATS the last two seasons. Interestingly enough, whether playing in or out of conference, Michigan’s Home ATS winning rate is the same, a very profitable 66.67%. The difference with Michigan is in Away games. In-conference Away, they are 50% ATS, but just 20% when playing non-conference teams away from The Big House. As favorites, the Wolverines are 60% ATS, but as underdogs they are just 46.15% ATS.


Expectations in College Football Betting
As an admitted oversimplification, betting lines are driven by expectations. Once upon a time, expectations for Michigan football were as high as possible. Nowadays, that only seems true if you bleed Maize and Blue. Sorry Wolverine faithful, but the rest of the world does not think you a football powerhouse any longer. Want proof? Pinnacle has your National Championship futures odds tied for 24th-shortest. It is a fact that your “little brother” is (listed as) three times more likely to win the National Championship than you are in 2014-2015. A popular college football magazine (that got a perfect 25 out of 25 predicted Preseason AP Poll rankings correct in 2013) does not have Michigan in the top 25 for 2014- but that is good news! Consistent with our predictive principals, having low expectations goes a long way to ATS profitability. That article focuses on three conditions for a profitable ATS season:

1) Be unranked in the preseason polls. Already mentioned, it is quite possible that Michigan is not in the 2014 Preseason Poll.
2) Be unprofitable the prior ATS season. Michigan was narrowly profitable (by one game) in 2013, so 2014 might not be ideal for Michigan bettors.
3) Increase the straight-up (SU) wins from the prior season. Setting the bar as low as Michigan’s seven wins in 2013 makes improvement in 2014 realistic.

The last two times Michigan won just seven SU games in a season, they rebounded with 11-win seasons.


Schedule Concerns
Michigan bettors should be looking for at least eight SU wins (the minimum required to improve). Even though the NCAA has Michigan’s 2014 strength of schedule ranking an unimpressive 59th, the only “gimme” game appears to be Miami of Ohio (who finished 0-12 SU in 2013). Take a look at Michigan’s 2014 schedule below, keeping in mind that a Bowl game could provide that eighth SU victory.

DATE

OPPONENT

LOCATION (STADIUM)

NOTES (UM Under Brady Hoke)

08/30/14

Appalachian State

Ann Arbor, MI

(Michigan Stadium)

The season opens with a team that strikes dread into Michigan fans, but even though this App. State is now an FBS team (unlike in 2007 for that fateful matchup), these Mountaineers are likely not as good as those of 2007 when App. State football “three-peated” an FCS Championship. Michigan is 7-7-1 ATS in non-conference games and 2-1 ATS in season-openers.

09/06/14

Notre Dame

South Bend, IN

(Notre Dame Stadium)

UM is 2-1 ATS vs. Notre Dame (2-0 ATS in The Big House and 0-1 ATS in ND Stadium). In this rivalry, the Home team is 8-3 ATS the last 11 seasons. The line direction (from opening to closing point spread) has indicated the correct side in 8 of the last 10 meetings (including all of them at ND).

09/13/14

Miami (OH)

Ann Arbor, MI

(Michigan Stadium)

UM has played Miami (OH) twice in the past decade, both times in the Big House, and both times UM opened as 14.5-point favorites (and neither was under Hoke). UM is 0-2 ATS in games against non- “power conference” competition after playing Notre Dame.

09/20/14

Utah

Ann Arbor, MI

(Michigan Stadium)

UM is 1-2 ATS in games played before their B1G opener. Utah (under HC Whittingham) is a poor ATS road team (winning at just 45.1%), but Utah beat Michigan both SU and ATS in The Big House in 2008 (before Hoke), but that season the Utes went 13-0 (SU) and UM went just 3-9 (SU).

09/27/14

Minnesota

Ann Arbor, MI

(Michigan Stadium)

UM is 3-0 ATS in B1G openers, and 3-0 ATS vs. Minnesota. This game will be the third time in Hoke’s four seasons that UM opens B1G play with Minnesota.

10/04/14

Rutgers

Piscataway, NJ (High Point Solutions Stadium)

This will be RU’S second B1G game as new members of the conference. UM is 6-6 ATS in-conference, on the road, and 7-10-1 ATS in all games away from The Big House.

10/11/14

Penn State

Ann Arbor, MI

(Michigan Stadium)

UM is 8-4 ATS in B1G Home games. Over the past decade, UM is just 2-5 ATS vs. Penn State (0-1 ATS under Hoke).

10/25/14

Michigan State

East Lansing, NJ

(Spartan Stadium)

UM is 0-3 ATS vs. MSU. UM is 3-1 ATS after a bye week. (Their one ATS loss was to MSU.)

11/01/14

Indiana

(Homecoming)

Ann Arbor, MI

(Michigan Stadium)

UM is 1-2 ATS immediately after playing MSU. IU has lost 18 in a row (SU) to UM. The Hoosiers are coming off of a bye, but IU is 0-3 ATS (under HC Wilson) after a bye week.

11/08/14

Northwestern

Evanston, IL

(Ryan Field)

UM is 2-1 ATS vs. NU, and 2-0 ATS in Evanston. The last two times UM went to Evanston, they beat the spread by 11 and 10.5 points.

11/22/14

Maryland

Ann Arbor, MI

(Michigan Stadium)

Like Rutgers, Maryland is new to the B1G in 2014. Coming into 2014, Maryland is 7-48-1 (SU) vs. B1G opponents (including 0-3 vs. UM). UM is 3-0 ATS in games immediately before playing Ohio State.

11/29/2014

Ohio State

Columbus, OH

(Ohio Stadium)

UM is 1-2 both SU and ATS vs. Ohio State. Neither team has won (SU) by more than a single TD. Over the past decade, UM is just 1-4 ATS at The Horseshoe (0-1 ATS under Hoke).


Extensive coverage of all NCAA Football action.

Personnel Matters
In 2013, Michigan managed just a 7-6 SU campaign. In 2014, they will try to best their 2013 mark without: a four-year starting left tackle with 48 starts, a right tackle with 36 starts, the leading (school) running back for the last three years, and a single-season receiving yards (school) record-holding receiver— and that was just the offense. On the subject of offense, Michigan’s rushing yards per carry average was the lowest it has been since 1999. Despite those offensive tackles who have been starting at Michigan for as many years as Hoke has been the Wolverines’ head coach, the 2013 offense allowed 36 sacks- the same amount allowed in 2011 and 2012 COMBINED. The last five B1G teams to allow more than 35 sacks in a season beat the spread at a combined rate of just 35.71%. That young offensive line (four of five projected starters are underclassmen) could determine Michigan’s ATS year in 2014.


More Michigan Mentionables Under Brady Hoke

  • When Michigan was favored by 10 to 21 points at Home, they were a perfect 5-0 ATS.
  • When Michigan was held under 100 rushing yards OR under three yards per carry, they were 1-6-1 ATS.
  • When Michigan’s defense allowed more than 200 rushing yards, they were 1-6 ATS.
  • Extreme Line Movement: When the betting line moved at least three points (from the opening number to the closing number) the direction of the line movement indicated the right side four out of five times.
  • Totals: The public loves to bet “overs,” even though the “under” has been correct in nearly 51% of college football’s last 10 seasons. For Michigan games under Brady Hoke, 92.31% of the time, the public majority bet the over. The under was correct 53.85% of the time overall, but an even more unbelievable 66.67% in Away games.

 

Preseason Conclusions
The 2015 College Football National Championship will be determined by playing-off four teams chosen by 13 people. For good or ill, this will be the most subjective method of determining the four best teams in college football since before the BCS. Given the extreme subjectivity of the selection process and the fact that we have no data on the results (since this is the first year of the process), we recommend the most conservative approach to your National Championship futures betting. Playing in the B1G impresses no one in 2014. However, going undefeated when road trips include Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State would all but guarantee Michigan a spot in the first FBS College Football Playoff. Since the selection process is so new and subjective and the thought of Michigan going undefeated in 2014 is far-fetched, we recommend against wagering anything on a Michigan National Championship futures bet.

Even though Michigan in 2014 is not Michigan of 1997, they are still a “public” team. In fact, since Brady Hoke has been the head coach, the Michigan side has received the majority of the public betting in 69.23% of their games. This 2014 team has an equal opportunity to collapse under the weight of Brady Hoke’s (possible) last season or to exceed expectations by boosting their road play and upsetting some good teams. Look to the offensive line play early in the season as the “canary in the mine.” Look for rushing yards per carry to average above 6.5 for the first three games. (That might sound like a high average, but Michigan’s first three opponents follow the familiar ‘two creampuffs and Notre Dame’ formula. They need to get to that mark.) After those initial three games, if Michigan’s rushing yards per carry average is below 5.5, then there could be trouble. Should that low average be accompanied by lots of sacks allowed, then expect Brady Hoke to be sacked by season’s end.


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