Connect with us


Michigan State Football: What to make of win total set at 4.5 by Vegas

Vegas is not high on MSU.



Michigan State football
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Caesar’s Sportsbook has set the Michigan State football win total at 4.5 for the upcoming 2023 season. What do we think of that?

Caesar’s Sportsbook has released some early season win totals for college football. Michigan State football is currently set at 4.5 wins. The over is juiced to -180, with the underpriced at +150. These splits would indicate the true projected number is probably closer to five.

Before we get into whether or not there is any value in betting this, let’s talk about what this means for Michigan State. In reality, it means nothing. Michigan State is going to get their chance to go and win all 12 games regardless of what Vegas thinks. Their projections have absolutely zero impact on the outcome of games.

But there’s a reason the resorts in the desert are so massive and the city keeps expanding. The house always wins. In other words, your average Joe sports fan isn’t setting the line. Thousands of data points go into these totals. Vegas projections are noteworthy because they’re usually pretty darn close.

In that case, this is a pretty concerning number for Michigan State. Five wins should be the absolute floor for a school like MSU based on its baseline talent and schedule. Vegas is telling us that there’s a chance they don’t even get that many. It’s hard to disagree. The Spartans were not competitive in a number of games last year and beat one team (Illinois) that finished better than 6-6. They’ll be without their two leading receivers from last season and their starting quarterback. The defense showed improvement late last season, but still appears to be a ways away from being a dominant unit.

Let’s take a look at the 2023 schedule to see if we can find five wins in here somewhere.

  • Sept. 1: vs. Western Michigan
  • Sept. 9: vs. Richmond
  • Sept. 16: vs. Washington
  • Sept. 23: vs. Maryland
  • Sept. 30: at Iowa
  • Oct. 14: at Rutgers
  • Oct. 21: vs. Michigan
  • Oct. 28: at Minnesota
  • Nov. 4: vs. Nebraska
  • Nov. 11: at Ohio State
  • Nov. 18: at Indiana
  • Nov. 25: vs. Penn State

Personally, I always find it tempting to bet the over on low win totals because, well, you don’t need as many wins to win your bet. Your bet stays alive for much later in the season — even if it seems improbable. On top of that, there’s always the potential to cash it early in the season if the team pulls an upset or two.

As far as Michigan State in 2023, I can’t recommend laying -180 for this team to get to five wins. The juice is too much, so I’d recommend waiting until we see some fives out there on other books. Even if or when that does happen though, I can’t endorse it.

Assuming Michigan State football beats Western Michigan and Richmond, we’ve still have to find three more wins. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Michigan State won’t beat the Buckeyes in Columbus. They’ll have a puncher’s chance against Michigan and Penn State because those games are at home. But I’d still expect the Spartans to be at least two-touchdown underdogs.

That leaves seven games. Can MSU go 3-4 against Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota, Rutgers, Indiana, Nebraska, and Washington? Maybe. But I’m not betting on it. Maryland appears to be a program on the rise and handled MSU with relative ease in 2022. You know you’re getting a tough Iowa defense in a place where MSU has struggled tremendously over the years. Minnesota took the Spartans to the cleaners in 2022. Nebraska should be improved with Matt Rhule in year one. The two easiest games on this schedule — Indiana and Rutgers — are both road games, where nothing is a given.

Quite honestly, I think the season comes down to how Michigan State football plays in September. They have the benefit of playing four games in a row at home to start the season. If they can find a way to win three of those games, I think this cashes with ease. But if they come out at 2-2, with five of their eight remaining games on the road, then things get dicey.

As of now, I’m staying away entirely. Vegas was wildly wrong on Michigan State in 2021 with this same number of 4.5. They did not see Kenneth Walker coming. Maybe there is a difference-maker within the program of that quality. But I’m not putting money down on it. As noted, MSU’s baseline level of talent scares me off the under as well. Plus, that’s just not fun to root for.

Wait this one out for a better number and to see if MSU adds any unexpected talent via the transfer portal.