Michigan State Betting Odds Preview
Michigan State is coming off its finest season since the days of Duffy Daugherty and Bubba Smith, after winning both the Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl, finishing No. 3 in the final college football polls. The Spartans are now 42-12 SU and 32-22 ATS over the last four seasons.
Now, the trick is to do it again, and maybe qualify for that four-team College Football Playoff in January. But there are holes to fill this season, especially on that vaunted defense, and there's always the specter of a letdown following a season such as last.
Michigan State Odds to Win Big Ten: 15/4 at Bovada
Michigan State Odds to Win College Football Championship: 25/1 at Bovada
Michigan State Regular Season Win Total: 9.5 at Bovada
Michigan State Betting Props: Connor Cook to Win Heisman 40/1 at Bovada
Michigan State started somewhat slowly last year, beating Western Michigan and South Florida but coming nowhere close to covering two big spreads. The Spartans then played a dud of a game at Notre Dame. But as the offense improved and the defense got nasty the wins started rolling in. Michigan State beat Michigan, won at Nebraska and at Northwestern, then upset Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game. Sparty then pulled another surprise, beating Stanford in the Rose Bowl, to finish at 13-1 SU, 10-4 ATS.
This year the Spartans return 12 starters, seven on offense but only five on defense. Connor Cook, who threw for 300 yards against both the Buckeyes and Cardinal, is back, as is RB Jeremy Langford, who ran for 1,100 yards over the last nine weeks of last season. But Michigan State will have to replace three starters along the offensive line, and six starters on defense, including both defensive tackles, two linebackers and half the secondary.
The Spartans get an early shot at building some national cred this season when they trip to Oregon for what should be a very interesting Big Ten/Pac-12 showdown. But after that most of their toughest games are at home, against Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State. They also miss three of the top contenders in the West Division - Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa.
If there had been a four-team College Football Playoff last year Michigan State would have qualified. To make it this year the Spartans will probably have to repeat as champions of the Big Ten.
Big Ten Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 5
Ohio State 10/11
Michigan State 15/4
Michigan State won most of its close games during its run to the first Big Ten championship game two years ago, but lost most of its close games last year and came up short. This year the Spartans appear to have many of the pieces in place for another postseason visit to Indianapolis, and perhaps their first trip to Pasadena in 25 years.
Michigan State returned 13 starters last year for its run at a return trip to the Big Ten championship game, but it wasn't meant to be. After a 4-1 start to the season, which included a win over Boise State and a loss to Notre Dame, the Spartans then opened Big Ten play with a one-point loss to Ohio State. After a victory over Indiana, MSU then lost in double-overtime to Iowa, and on a late field goal at Michigan. The Spartans won a close one at Wisconsin, then lost by four points to Nebraska, and by a field goal to Northwestern.
Michigan State then beat Minnesota to become bowl-eligible, and came from behind to defeat TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. So the Spartans finished 7-6 overall, and 3-5 in Big Ten play even though they outscored conference opponents by 10 points. But they also went just 5-8 ATS, including, incredibly, 0-6 ATS at home. This year Michigan State returns 15 starters; eight are back on offense, including second-year starting QB Andrew Maxwell, most of the receiving corps and four along the offensive line, and seven are back on defense. But they'll have to replace RB Le'Veon Bell, who ran for almost 1,800 yards last year, and DE William Gholston. As far as this year's schedule goes the Spartans should be 3-0 when they visit Notre Dame.
They then go to Iowa, host Indiana, and Purdue, and visit Illinois. So there's a chance they could be 8-0 headed into a home stretch of games against Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Minnesota. And in the best news the Spartans miss Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin, the top three contenders from the Leaders Division. The key to the season could come down to that three-game stretch vs. the Wolverines, Huskers, and Wildcats, all of whom beat MSU last year.
Big Ten Championship Odds at 5Dimes as of August 5
Ohio State -115
Michigan State +800