We bet Michigan State will not make the NCAA football playoff this season, nor the Big Ten East but could they cover a three-touchdown pointspread when they host 6-4 Rutgers?
Knights-Spartans Betting Odds
Most College Football odds opened Michigan State at -22 over Rutgers, with a total of 58, and both those numbers were holding steady in the early betting.
Anyone thinking the Knights might spring an upset in this spot could get a price of +1150 on the moneyline at 5Dimes.
Knights-Spartans: The Match-Up
Michigan State won the Big Ten last year and the Rose Bowl, and expectations called for nothing less than a conference championship repeat this season. The Spartans were doing alright in that endeavor until two weeks ago, when they got roughed up at home by Ohio State. So with two games to go Michigan State needs a minor miracle to overcome the Buckeyes in the East Division standings, and with two losses it's out of national championship playoff contention.
MSU opened this season with a scrimmage against Jacksonville State, then lost at Oregon 46-27, after leading by nine points in the third quarter, missing the cover as a two-touchdown underdog. The Spartans then won six games in a row, although the best team it beat during that span was Nebraska. Michigan State then lost at home to Ohio State 49-37, falling a game and a tiebreaker behind the Buckeyes in the East Division race.
Last week Sparty bounced back to win at Maryland 37-15, covering as 11-point road chalk. Michigan State outgained the Terps 482-252, outrushed them 242-6 and held the ball for almost 38 minutes.
The Spartans have outgained and outrushed every opponent this season except the Ducks and Ohio State.
On the visiting side of this match-up, even with the tougher schedule this season thanks to the move to the Big Ten, Rutgers hoped to extend its current bowl streak to four seasons. And at 6-4 overall (6-4 ATS) the Knights are already bowl-eligible.
Rutgers started 2-0 this season, with an upset of Washington State out in Pullman. The Knights then lost their first-ever Big Ten game to Penn State 13-10 on a Lions score with just over a minute to go. Rutgers then beat Navy and Tulane, then picked up its first-ever Big Ten victory, a 26-24 decision over Michigan. But the Knights then lost three in a row, at Ohio State 56-17, at Nebraska 42-24 and at home to Wisconsin 37-0.
Last week, though, Rutgers snapped that losing streak with a 45-23 victory at home over Indiana, covering as a 10-point favorite. The Knights trailed at the half 13-10, but won the second half 35-10.
Still, Rutgers has been outgained in each of its last four games, and outrushed in its last five.
In four games vs. common opponents this season (Nebraska, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State) the Spartans are 3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS, Rutgers 2-2 both SU and ATS.
Knights-Spartans: A Limited History
These two programs have met five times all-time, most recently back in 2004, when Brian Leonard (remember him?) ran for 150 yards in leading Rutgers to a 19-14 victory as a seven-point home underdog.
Now all of a sudden they're conference rivals. How strange.
Knights-Spartans Betting Trends
Rutgers is 6-4 on the totals this season, as Knights games have averaged 55 points.
Michigan State, somewhat surprisingly, is 8-2 on the totals, as Spartans games have averaged 66 points.
Knights-Spartans Betting Verdict
Michigan State is probably going to win this game, but as the home team the Spartans are probably a bit overrated we wouldn't recommend placing your College Football picks on the Money Line. Sparty's defense isn't the monster it was last season, and Rutgers can move the ball a little, averaging over 380 yards per game. Plus, this is Michigan State's home finale, so the bench might get cleared before this one is over. If the Knights can put up 20 points – and we believe that's possible – they'll stand a good shot at covering.
Free College Football Pick: Rutgers +22.5 at BetOnline