Northwestern at Michigan State Spread
The Michigan State Spartans host the Northwestern Wildcats Saturday in Big Ten Conference action. Oddsmakers have listed Michigan State as a 6.5-point favorite and set the total at 44.0.
Why Michigan State Covers
The Spartans are one of the top defensive teams in the country, and they have had an extra week to prepare for a mediocre Northwestern offense that is far too reliant on running the football.
Michigan State ranks seventh in the country in total defense with 288.0 yards allowed per game. It ranks 11th in scoring defense with 16.3 points allowed per contest.
Northwestern ranks 63rd in total offense with 402.0 yards per game and 52nd in scoring with 30.5 points per game. It ranks 14th in rushing offense with 237.6 yards per game but will have a difficult time coming close to that figure versus a Michigan State stop unit that is holding opponents to 113.4 rushing yards per game.
If the Spartans could hold Wisconsin’s mighty rushing attack to just 19 yards, they can certainly slow down a Northwestern running game they have had two weeks to prepare for.
Michigan State has had the upper hand in the series. It has won the last four meetings by an average of 12.3 points. Each of these victories have come by at least eight points. The Spartans won last season’s meeting 31-17 at Northwestern.
Why Northwestern Covers
Michigan State has been an awful investment as a favorite this season. It is just 1-7 against the spread in the eight games in which it has been laying points. It has also been a terrible play at home where it is 0-6 against the spread this season. It has lost these six by an average score of 17.3 to 16.5.
It is significant that the Spartans enter off a 28-24 loss to Nebraska in a game in which they were favored. That’s because the Spartans are on a 10-23 against the spread skid in games following an upset defeat.
The Wildcats have been a great bet this year. They are 9-1 against the spread this season and have covered the number in each of their last four. They only have one legitimate loss of more than 6.5 points – a 39-28 setback at Penn State. They lost to Michigan by seven points but were tied with the Wolverines at the end of regulation. They lost to Nebraska by just one point.
Northwestern has covered the spread in five of its last six on the road. It has also been a strong wager when catching points. In fact, it is on a 39-22 against the spread run as an underdog of 3.5 to 10.0 points. It has lost these games by only 4.3 points in average.
There are also a few match up specific trends that support the Wildcats Saturday. For starters, the road team has covered the number in 10 of the last 11 meetings. Also, the underdog is on a 7-3 against the spread run. It is also worth noting that the Wildcats have covered the number in each of their last five games at Michigan State.