Michigan State football

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Michigan State football: Betting preview, prediction vs. Indiana

Michigan State football hosts Indiana on Saturday for Senior Day. Here’s my full betting preview and a prediction.

The battle for the Old Brass Spittoon is on the line in East Lansing this weekend. Indiana and Michigan State football will meet for the 69th time on Saturday afternoon.

Matchup: Indiana (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten) at Michigan State (5-5, 3-4)
Location: Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich.
Line: Michigan State -10; O/U 47.5

The Spartans hold a 49-17-2 advantage in this series and currently hold the rivalry trophy after a 20-15 victory in Bloomington last season. In that game, Michigan State covered as a 3.5-point favorite thanks to a late Matt Coghlin field goal. The under cashed easily as the total was set at 48.5.

It’s been an abysmal stretch for Hoosiers since their remarkable 6-1 regular season in 2020. Tom Allen’s program looked like it was poised to climb the ladder in the Big Ten East. Since then, however, Indiana is 5-17 overall, with just one conference victory. It has also lost seven games in a row.

Michigan State comes in feeling much better about its season after winning three of its last four games, winning outright as an underdog against Wisconsin (+7.5) and Illinois (+16.5). Most importantly for Mel Tucker, the Spartans can become bowl eligible with a win on Saturday.

On paper, this looks like a bad matchup for Indiana. The strength of this Michigan State team is anchored in their passing offense. Jayden Reed and Keon Coleman are legitimate NFL talents, and Payton Thorne is an adequate passer. The Hoosiers have struggled on defense, ranking 115th against the pass this year, giving up about 270 yards per game. Against the rush, they haven’t been much better, as the Hoosiers rank 100th overall allowing 176 yards per game.

The Spartans have had moderate success on the ground in their last two games and have three capable running backs to rotate. Michigan State wants to run the ball, and if they can do so effectively, it will only strengthen their play-action passing game.

On the other side of the ball, Michigan State’s defense has been much improved since the return of their two best defenders: Jacob Slade and Xavier Henderson. The strength of this Spartan defense is against the run, which Indiana has also struggled to defend. However, Indiana should find some success passing, as they have the luxury of throwing against a Michigan State secondary that ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in almost every statistic.

The trouble for Indiana is that it will likely be playing without its starting quarterback. Connor Bazelak was injured earlier this season but returned against Ohio State to then give way to Dexter Williams II. Regular backup Seth Tuttle initially announced his intent to enter the transfer portal before returning to start against Penn State and then he left that game with an injury. Williams appears to be the preferred option moving forward but he was just 6-for-19 in that game for 107 yards but did throw two touchdown passes. Allen has not named a starter, but it is widely expected to be Williams. He brings an added element to this offense with his rushing ability, but remains wildly inaccurate as a thrower, completing only 10-of-30 pass attempts this season.

There are 131 teams in Division 1 FBS football and Michigan State and Indiana rank 129th and 130th in time of possession, respectively. What does that mean? Lots of possessions for each offense. This would normally be a dead-over game given these two defenses and the number of possessions each offense should get. But without Bazelak and a very small sample size to go off of with Williams, the total should be left alone.

The other factor to consider here is the weather. A large snowstorm is making its way through Michigan from Thursday through Saturday. Temperatures at kickoff will be in the mid-20s with snow possible.

Instead, we’re going to look toward the home team here. With a trip to Penn State on deck next weekend, Tucker and Michigan State know this is its shot to get to a bowl game.

I expect the Spartans to come out hungry for the chance to salvage their season from disaster after a 2-4 start. It’s Senior Day in East Lansing, and I trust Henderson to have the Spartans ready to go in his final home game.

The offense should be able to move the ball against a reeling Hoosier defense. With a new quarterback and bad weather expected, Indiana should look to lean on its running game. The Spartans should welcome that challenge. Allen’s group now knows they aren’t going to a bowl game, and after coming off back-to-back drubbings against Ohio State and Penn State, it’s fair to wonder where their heads will be.

Michigan State didn’t play well last weekend, yet still should have covered the same number against a Rutgers team that beat Indiana with a healthy Bazelak. Let’s see if they can do it the second time around.

Pick: Michigan State -10 (this is merely a prediction and not advice)

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