The Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans have a habit of getting in each other's way, and the stakes are high again when they meet Saturday at noon ET. The Spartans have won four of the past five meetings and could potentially spoil No. 6 Michigan's run at the Big 10 title game with another upset Saturday. However, the Wolverines have won six straight and appear to have their strongest team in the Jim Harbaugh era. They routed Wisconsin last week, while No. 24 Michigan State pulled an upset at Penn State. The Wolverines are 7.5-point sportsbook favorites in the latest Michigan vs. Michigan State odds, up from an opening line of -5. The over-under for total points scored has dipped to 40 from an initial offering of 45. Before locking in your Michigan vs. Michigan State picks, check out what SportsLine senior analyst Josh Nagel has to say.
A Nevada-based expert with 20 years of experience in the sports wagering industry, Nagel specializes in handicapping college athletics. He's having another solid season in college football, hitting on 60 percent of his spread picks for SportsLine members. More important, he has a keen eye for the tendencies of the Wolverines, with a 7-2 record on spread picks involving their games over the past two seasons.
Two weeks ago, Nagel advised SportsLine members that Michigan would overpower upstart Maryland and pull away to cover the 17-point spread. That's exactly what happened as the Wolverines came alive in the second half and rolled to a 42-21 victory. Anyone who followed Nagel's advice is way up this season.
Now, Nagel has scrutinized Michigan vs. Michigan State from every possible angle to reveal a strong point-spread pick that he's sharing only at SportsLine.
Nagel has taken into account that Michigan State (4-2) was uneven in the early going and appeared destined to come up short of many projections that pegged the Spartans as a sleeper to win the Big Ten. They squandered a 10-point lead in a loss at Arizona State and were outplayed by Northwestern in a 29-19 home loss as a two-touchdown favorite.
But this historically late-blooming team looks as if it might be headed toward another strong finish. The Spartans scored the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left on a 25-yard pass from Brian Lewerke to Felton Davis to beat Penn State last week. The defense held the Lions to three second-half points while limiting their powerful offense to 394 total yards and 3 of 14 on third-down attempts.
Just because Michigan State has been rolling doesn't mean it'll cover against a Michigan (6-1) team that is hitting its peak while fighting for its first Big Ten title game appearance under Jim Harbaugh.
The Wolverines now boast the second-ranked defense in the country, allowing just 238 yards per game. They are tops in pass defense (129.1), and their scoring defense (15.4 ppg) ranks No. 9 nationally. All of those numbers improved after they buried a Wisconsin team that won last year's meeting in Madison by two touchdowns.
Wisconsin favors the power run game, but has become more dangerous in recent seasons because of a solid balance of play-action passes that have created big plays. Although the Badgers made some progress wit the run, they were halted on third down in the passing game and when taking shots vertically. Michigan held Alex Hornibrook to 7-of-20 attempts for 100 yards and intercepted him twice.
We can tell you Nagel is leaning toward the under, but he has analyzed all key factors in this matchup and unearthed a crucial x-factor he believes causes one side of the spread to hit hard. It's only available at SportsLine.
Who covers in Michigan vs. Michigan State? And what crucial x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to jump all over Saturday, all from the senior analyst who's 7-2 on picks involving Michigan.