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Michigan Wolverines Football: 2018 Season Betting Outlook

Odds to win… 
National title: +1400 
Big Ten conference: +600 
Regular-season win total: 9 (OVER -145)

The Michigan Wolverines haven’t finished better than third place in the Big Ten East since Jim Harbaugh came along three years ago. So things are getting a wee bit restless in Ann Arbor where titles are the only thing considered acceptable. 

There is reason for hope this year, though. The Wolverines made a huge step toward improvement by picking up Ole Miss graduate transfer and gunslinger QB Shea Patterson. They also hired offensive line coach Ed Warinner, a man with a history of improving front-line units at big-name schools like Notre Dame and Ohio State. 

Schedule: 

No way to sugarcoat it – Michigan goes through the meat grinder this year. It begins in South Bend against Notre Dame and plays on the road against its two biggest rivals, Michigan State (Oct. 20) and Ohio State (Nov. 24).   

At least one site out there (247 Sports) has Michigan’s schedule rated as the toughest in the nation.

Against the spread: 

Jim Harbaugh is costing bettors. The Maize and Blue are just 18-20-1 against the spread (ATS) in his tenure at Michigan despite going 28-11 straight up. The OVER has come through at 63 percent under Harbaugh, though (24-14-1 O/U), which is a little strange considering he’d prefer to win with a run game and stingy defense. That usually equates to lower scores. 

I’m looking for some game-to-game betting value with the Wolverines in the middle of this season through October. This will give the offensive line time to jell and the games are tough enough to keep the point spreads manageable. 

Road games (48-56 ATS) and conference home games (40-47-2 ATS) have traditionally not been great betting spots for Michigan as far back as our numbers go (1995). 

Strengths: 

Michigan should have a defense that nobody really wants to face once again. They only lost two starters from a unit that led the nation in pass defense (150.1 yards per game) and ranked 13th in points allowed (18.8). The Wolverines also finished second in the Big Ten in total defense (271 yards allowed per game) and sacks (3.2 per game) and they led the conference in first downs allowed (13.8) and third-down conversion defense (48.6 percent). 

Points won’t be easy to come by against this team. 

Area to improve: 

Warinner has his work cut out on the offensive line. The Wolverines ranked 110th in sacks allowed and 91st in tackles for a loss allowed last season. They were especially vulnerable at the tackle position and they return most of the same players there. They also lost their best lineman, Mason Cole, to the NFL draft.  

This is the most important area for bettors to watch for Michigan, in my opinion. If Warinner can turn this unit around, there is little doubt that Patterson can help transform the Wolverines into one of the top passing attacks in the conference after rating as the fourth-worst through the air in 2017. That means Michigan could actually start winning games with offense for a change. 

Prediction: 

I like OVER nine wins for this team despite the tough schedule and the higher price you have to pay for the OVER. I believe we’ll see improvement on the O-line as well as at quarterback. The defense should be tough enough to get to double-digit wins and I anticipate some game-to-game betting value on Michigan for the first time under Harbaugh, too. 

Follow me on Twitter @JonnyOddsShark

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