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NCAAF: Michigan State at Ohio State Upset Special ML Pick

Michigan State Spartans(7-2) @ Ohio State Buckeyes(7-2)

  • Where: The Horseshoe. Columbus, Ohio
  • When: November 11, 2017 12:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Michigan State (+16) at Ohio State (-16)
  • Moneyline: Michigan State (+575) at Ohio State (-750)
  • Over / Under: Over 55 (-110) vs Under 55 (-110)

Pundits and prognosticators work overtime trying to come up with an “upset special” for a given NFL or NCAA week. It’s a catchy tag-line – readers expect a “called shot” every so often.

Even if it’s really nothing “special” at all.

Other times, odds-makers make it easy. Just look at the money line and point spread for Saturday’s Big Ten clash between Michigan State and Ohio State. MSU opened as a 5/1 payoff, and a (15.5) point underdog in the spread.

Since then, the lines have moved toward Ohio State. Perhaps bettors are noticing the trends. OSU is 12-5 against the spread coming off a loss, thanks to Urban Meyer’s whip and the team’s resolve with J.T. Barrett at the helm and 3 talented units.

But could this time be different? Last week, the Buckeyes were beaten soundly for the 2nd time this season. The previous lopsided loss came to Oklahoma, a national title contender. But last Saturday Iowa crushed the Bucks 55-24 in the ultimate gut-check for a team that began the season with title hopes of its own.

The Spartans are strangely tagged as a heavy underdog despite beating Penn State 27-24 last week, and leading the Big Ten East division. Should they manage to knock off the Buckeyes on the road, a clear path to a conference title, a major bowl berth and even a long-shot CFP bid could await.

Don’t take the Spartans lightly

Click here to bet on the Michigan State Spartans (+575) to upset Ohio State this Saturday, and receive a sign-up bonus from Bet Online.

This could be the ultimate Aristocrat vs Blue Collar match-up. Michigan State knocked off the formerly top-5 ranked Nittany Lions by means of a ball-hawking secondary, a brave QB performance (Brian Lewerke actually out-played his counterpart Trace McSorley) and a clutch kicking game in the closing moments.

MSU’s running game is nowhere near that of the Buckeyes. But the Spartans have been winning with stubborn run defense that forces opponents to put the egg in the air, even when uncomfortable doing so. Michigan State has averaged allowing less than 90 rushing yards per game, an incredible number in the modern Big Ten.

But is that number partially due to teams choosing to throw instead? Certainly, the Spartans don’t have an all-star secondary throughout the 2-deep roster, but last week’s 3 interceptions of a star rival QB show that opponents aren’t exactly flying the friendly skies.

On offense, the Spartans rely on a steady diet of Lewerke running one way and running back L.J. Scott going the other way in a traditional read-option look. It’s nothing the Buckeyes haven’t seen a thousand times, but it was effective in wins over Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota.

Buck-eye of a needle

Can Ohio State plow through such a tough run-stopping ‘D? The stat sheet shows that Meyer’s team engineered 200+ rushing yards against Penn State in a 39-38 win, but those numbers are deceptive. The Bucks were frustrated on offense until a tremendous surge of big plays in the 4th quarter when they came back to win.

Barrett had easily his worst game of the season against Iowa last Saturday, throwing 4 interceptions. But the real story might have been the Hawkeyes’ stoning of the OSU ground game. Barrett was his team’s leading rusher with 63 yards. No Ohio State tailback had above 6 carries or 50 yards.

Tackles-for-loss can make a healthy ypc average moot. If an opponent doesn’t want to even try to run, that says something – especially for a proud running offense like Ohio State.

Winning ML and ATS Pick – Ohio State vs Michigan State

Meyer and Barrett will figure out a way to engineer 1st downs in the option game. But with Michigan State’s improving offense and hard-nosed defense, it will be hard for the Buckeyes to control 4 quarters.

That means the ML and the point spread are each over-inflated. We like MSU to cover, and the team’s emotional effort (and the setting of a virtual division-championship game) make the 5.75/1 SU odds tasty as well.

Take the Spartans and (+16) points or straight-up on the money line.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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