The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders travel to the Big House in Week 1 for a battle with the Michigan Wolverines. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM EST on Saturday, August 31 at Michigan Stadium and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Taking a look at the Week 1 college football odds, Michigan opened as a massive 29.5-point home favorite earlier this week. That line has moved up substantially after early betting, as the Wolverines are currently listed at -33.5. The total for the game is sitting at 54 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Michigan vs Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee managed to finish above .500 for the fourth consecutive year in 2018 after going 8-6 overall and finishing first overall in the Conference USA East division. The Blue Raiders were fantastic in conference play, going 7-1 and clinching a spot in the conference title game against UAB. They also received another bowl invite, although they did get blown out by Appalachian State 45-13 in the New Orleans bowl. There has been a lot of turnover on offense heading into 2019, as only four starters are returning from a group that averaged 28 points and almost 400 total yards per game. Former backup QB Asher O’Hara will enter Week 1 as the starter after throwing just 20 passes in 2018. He will rely heavily on the highly effective running back duo of Chaton Mobley and Terelle West who combined for almost 900 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. Leading receiver Ty Lee is also returning for 2019 after racking up 71 receptions, 883 yards, and 7 touchdowns.
The Blue Raiders hovered around the national average defensively for most of 2018, ultimately allowing an average of 25.3 points on 373.0 yards of total offense. They were also right around the middle of the pack against both the run and the pass, ranking 59th and 51st overall respectively.
Michigan won double-digit games for the third time in four years under head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2018, going 10-3 overall including a solid 8-1 record in conference play. It was good enough for a 2nd place finish in the Big Ten East, although a huge loss against Ohio State ended up costing them a chance in the conference championship. The Wolverines also had a disappointing showing in the Peach Bowl, getting trounced 41-15 by the Florida Gators. However, they should certainly be a powerhouse again in 2019, especially on offense where starting QB Shea Patterson should have another fantastic season. Patterson will also have his two favorite targets in the receiving game back to start the year, as both Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones should create plenty of havoc for opposing secondaries after combing for 14 touchdowns in 2018. As a whole, Michigan averaged 35.2 points on 419.5 total yards of offense per game last season.
The Wolverines were outstanding defensively in 2018, as they held their opponents to a minuscule average of just 17.6 points per game on 263.0 total yards of offense. They were especially formidable against the pass, allowing only 145.9 yards per game through the air (2nd overall).
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Michigan -33.5
Expectations and pressure on the entire Michigan program have arguably never been higher heading into 2019. The time for excuses and explanations appears to be in the past, which puts Harbaugh directly in the line of fire if he fails to deliver a conference title yet again this season. The Wolverines have all the tools necessary needed for a deep run and are highly motivated, which makes me wary of betting against them here in Week 1. Although I wished I could have jumped on board before the line ballooned up to -33.5, I still think I’m going to roll with the home favorite in this matchup.
Click on the link for more free college football picks from our experts on staff.
Middle Tennessee certainly has a lot of positive narratives going for them heading into Week 1, especially at the running back and wide receiver position. However, I do have some serious concerns about their quarterback situation, as their new starter has little to no experience and could have some trouble adjusting to the pressure that he will likely face at the hands of a dominant Wolverines defense. Throw in the fact that the Blue Raiders have an average defense at best, and it’s hard not to lay the points in this spot. I’m fully expecting this game to be out of reach by halftime, so I’ll take Michigan to cover at home on Saturday evening and make a big statement to the rest of the Big Ten conference.