Michigan football: Why Wolverines will blow out Michigan State, cover 3-TD spread
Michigan’s 22-point spread is the largest in recent rivalry history with Michigan State. The experts in Vegas see the No. 4-ranked Wolverines stomping the struggling Spartans this Saturday in Ann Arbor.
During the Jim Harbaugh era, there have a been a couple of times when UM appeared to primed for a lopsided win — but the Spartans proved otherwise, fighting and keeping their losses close. The Spartans have dominated the Wolverines since 2010, winning the past 2 matchups and producing streaks of 3 and 4 consecutive victories.
Let’s be honest here: Michigan is really good. We’re talking national title contender good. Michigan State is not good. We’re talking lucky-to-win-5-games-this-year bad.
Given Michigan’s offensive output compared to that of Michigan State, a 3-TD dumping doesn’t sound too far-fetched.
Michigan opened the season by scoring 50-plus in 3 straight games and has run the ball better than it ever has under Harbaugh, who took over in 2015.
This Wolverines offense is the fastest and most potent of the Harbaugh era, averaging 42.7 points per Saturday — good for No. 6 overall in the nation. The Spartans average 27 points per game, No. 9 in the Big Ten, and aren’t on any type of national scoring watch.
You can do the math. That’s a lot to a little.
Michigan is way better on defense, too. The Wolverines are No. 3 in the country, allowing 12.1 points per game. MSU allows 27.1 (73rd). In 2021, the Spartans secondary was the worst in major college football, and they’re not far behind this year, coming in at No. 111 in the country.
The Wolverines can go aerial and have speed to burn. It’ll be a long day for the MSU defensive backfield.
During the season, No. 4 Michigan (7-0, 4-0) has won by an average of 30.6 points per game. While at home, the Wolverines have won by an average of 36 points per game. So yeah, MSU is in for it on Saturday.
Feel good about that -22, Michigan fans. More likely than not, UM will cover … and then some.
Sure, the Spartans beat up on Western Michigan during the season opener, 35-13; and they romped Akron, 52-0, in Week 2. However, they’ve had 2 games this year that ended with them seeing the end zone only once — against Minnesota (34-7L) and Maryland (27-13L).
Michigan hasn’t had that problem, whatsoever, this season. Finding the end zone has been as easy as ever for the Harbaugh-led Wolverines, who have weaponry at every offensive position.
“This year, we have an edge on those guys,” said running back Donovan Edwards, per SI.com. “Coach Harbaugh is 0-2 against Mel Tucker. We want to bring Paul [Bunyan] back to Michigan. We’re going to do whatever it takes.
“We’re going to win. We’re going to win, and we’re going to, like, leave them no mercy kind of deal. That’s what we want to do. We want to bring Paul back. We know what we have to do this week. Everybody is laser focused, locked in, even though we have this bye week. If we had a game this week, it would be bad.”
Never during the Harbaugh era has a player ever been so confident in predicting a victory. As a matter of fact, no Michigan player has ever come out and called his shot during rivalry week since Harbaugh took over the program.
Cocky or confident?
Let’s say it’s a mix of both, but mostly confidence.
For historical purposes, let’s take a look at every UM-MSU score since 2015, just to get a grasp of the recent trend — which suggests a close game, actually. There has been just one blowout by UM (2019, 44-10). Michigan has also won just 3 times during the past 8 seasons — so take that into account.
This year, Michigan will win — and win big — and Harbaugh will avoid going 0-3 vs. Mel Tucker. The only Big Ten coach to ever have such success in his first 3 against Michigan was Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Urbs was 4-0 against Jimmy before bouncing from OSU.
Back to UM-MSU since 2015.
- 2015: 27-23L (Trouble with the snap, Michigan should have won that game)
- 2016: 32-23W (Jabrill Peppers broke sound barrier during scoop-and-score TD)
- 2017: 14-10L (Blizzard conditions with backup QB John O’Korn)
- 2018: 21-7W (Solid win for Harbaugh)
- 2019: 44-10W (Rivalry going back to old ways?)
- 2020: 27-24L (MSU QB Rocky Lombardi went H.A.M.)
- 2021: 37-33L (Michigan squandered 33-14 first-half lead/S.T.B.)
So with just one blowout vs. Michigan State since 2015, it’s become easy to predict tight games between the Wolverines and Spartans. This year, the game means a lot — as always — to both teams: Michigan’s title search would continue with a win, whereas a win for the Spartans would instill hopes of maybe qualifying for a bowl game.
Michigan State doesn’t have Kenneth Walker III to bail out the team when things get tough. MSU doesn’t have an O-line that can protect its QB or clear the way for the run game, so those are two more factors working against it as it prepares for Saturday’s showdown at The Big House.
Michigan has QB JJ McCarthy, who looks ready to emerge as a star at any given time, and UM has a Heisman-contending RB in Blake Corum, who is No. 5 on the stiff-armed watch list.
Some years need number-crunching, hardcore analysis.
This year does not.
Michigan rolls easily, 45-17, and keeps its national title dreams alive.
Bank on it.