Big Ten Conference heavyweights Michigan and Penn State meet Saturday (noon ET) at Beaver Stadium.
The No. 2 Wolverines opened as 4.5-point favorites and are now up a smidge at -5.5 (-110). Meanwhile, the No. 9 Nittany Lions are +5.5 (-110) on the spread. The projected total is 44 (-110 Over, -110 Under).
Who has the edge? Read on as we break down both teams and dive into the odds in our Michigan vs Penn State preview.
Date/Time: Saturday, noon ET
Where: Beaver Stadium; University Park, Pa.
The Michigan Wolverines are 4-4-1 against the spread, but 4-1 over their last five NCAAF games. The total has gone Over in each of Michigan’s last five games. Meanwhile, the Penn State Nittany Lions are 7-2 ATS. The Nittany Lions’ 77.8% cover rate is tied for the third highest in college football. The total has gone Over in four of Penn State’s last five games. That’s important to remember when assessing the odds in our Michigan vs Penn State preview.
Distraction? What Distraction?
Appearing unfazed by allegations of sign stealing, the Michigan Wolverines pounded Purdue 41-13 in Week 10 to stay undefeated. Although the outcome was never in doubt, the Wolverines, a 31-point favorite, failed to cover the spread for the first time since Sept. 23.
Now 9-0 (6-0 in Big Ten play), the Wolverines are a +250 co-favorite with Georgia to win the national championship. That’s up from +900 in the preseason. The Wolverines also remain the betting pick to win the Big Ten at -110 after climbing to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 NCAAF rankings. They’ve outscored their six conference opponents by an average of 37.6 points.
Defense remains Michigan’s calling card. It’s allowed only 60 points in nine games, the fewest in FBS by a considerable margin. Ohio State is second with 96. Michigan also ranks first in yardage (231.4 allowed per game). The Wolverines maintained that success Saturday, holding Purdue to 1 for 14 on third downs.
Michigan also has a steady hand at quarterback at J.J. McCarthy. The junior was 24 of 37 for 335 yards and has now gone six straight games without an interception. His 75.7% completion rate ranks third in the country behind Oregon’s Bo Nix (78.1) and Arizona’s Noah Fifita (76.2). Despite his continued strong play, McCarthy has gone from a +250 Heisman favorite to +650 within the last week.
Still in the Mix
The Penn State Nittany Lions routed Maryland 51-15 in Week 10 to keep alive their faint hopes for the College Football Playoff. A 7.5-point favorite, Penn State jumped to a 21-7 halftime lead and covered the spread for the first time since Oct. 14.
Ranked ninth in the AP poll, the Nittany Lions are now 8-1, including 5-1 in Big Ten play. Their lone loss came Oct. 21 against Ohio State, one of only two ranked teams they’ve played to date on the college football schedule.
Penn State is +1500 to win the Big Ten and has even longer national championship odds (+10000). However, that could change significantly with a victory over Michigan. The Nittany Lions can climb right back into the picture.
To do so, they’ll need a much steadier performance from Drew Allar. The sophomore has bounced back with seven touchdown passes over his last two games since a dismal showing against the Buckeyes (18 of 42, 191 yards, 1 TD). That said, Allar has only one interception over his first 288 attempts this college football season.
Notably, Penn State’s defense rivals Michigan as one of the best in the country. The Nittany Lions have allowed the second fewest yards per game at 234.4. They’re also second in sacks (38). Keep that in mind when analyzing the odds in our Michigan vs Penn State preview.
Handicapping the Game
Allar was woeful in Penn State’s first statement game this season, completing only 42.8% of his passes while also taking four sacks. Although he’s played extremely well outside of that, the jury’s still out on his ceiling. How good can he be?
Based on that performance alone, it’s fair to have some doubts about Saturday. The Nittany Lions may be able to keep this within one score at home, but they’ll need to do an awful lot to win outright.