Upset Watch: Week 7

The Wolverines passed their first road test this past weekend, with a 42-24 win in Evanston. This week, Michigan hits the road to East Lansing, to face the Gremlins, or Spartans, of Michigan State. Michigan holds a 67-31-5 advantage in the series, which began in 1898, with a 39-0 Michigan win (Michigan won in 1902, the next meeting, 119-0). Michigan hasn’t lost four straight in this series since 1959-1962.

Here’s another interesting stat for you sports gamblers out there.

Rank Team ATS Overall ATS Favorite ATS Dog   Record


LSU 4-2 3-2 1-0 6-0


Alabama 5-1 5-1 0-0 6-0


Oklahoma 4-1 4-1 0-0 5-0


Wisconsin 4-1 4-1 0-0 5-0


Boise State 3-2 3-2 0-0 5-0


Oklahoma State 4-1 3-1 1-0 5-0


Stanford 5-0 5-0 0-0 5-0


Clemson 5-1 4-1 1-0 6-0


Oregon 3-2 3-2 0-0 4-1


Arkansas 4-2 3-1 1-1 5-1


Michigan 5-1 4-1 1-0 6-0


Georgia Tech 4-1-1 4-1-1 0-0 6-0


West Virginia 3-3 2-2 1-1 5-1


Nebraska 1-5 1-4 0-1 5-1


South Carolina 2-3-1 2-3-1 0-0 5-1


Illinois 3-3 3-3 0-0 6-0


Kansas State 4-1 1-1 3-0 5-0


Arizona State 2-4 2-3 0-1 5-1


Virginia Tech 1-5 1-5 0-0 5-1


Baylor 4-1 3-1 1-0 4-1


Texas A&M 1-4 1-4 0-0 3-2


Texas 3-2 3-1 0-1 4-1


Michigan State 3-2 2-1 1-1 4-1


Auburn 2-4 0-2 2-2 4-2


Houston 4-2 4-2 0-0 6-0

The Top 25 teams are 83-54-2 (60%) against the spread; the top 12 being 50-15-1 (76.5%) against the spread. Who says betting the favorite doesn’t pay?

As typical with the Watch, we’ll review the picks from last week, noting the bad picks, and point out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it is only in Vegas. We’ll also look at a sure-fire favorite and attempt to preview the Michigan game.



Arizona State (5-1) -3.5 @ Utah (2-3). Arizona State 35 Utah 14.


Iowa (3-2) +3.5 @ Penn State (5-1). Penn State 13 Iowa 3 .

Air Force (3-2) +16.5 @ Notre Dame (4-2). Notre Dame 59 Air Force 33.

Wyoming (3-2) +11.0 @ Utah State (2-3). Utah State 63 Wyoming 19.

@ Tennessee (3-2) +1.5 Georgia (4-2). Georgia 20 Tennessee 12.

UNLV (1-4) +21.0 @ Nevada (3-2). Nevada 37 UNLV 0.

@ Northwestern (2-3) +7.5 Michigan (6-0). Michigan 42 Northwestern 24.

This Week

Week 7 kicks off with two great games, San Diego State visits Air Force (SDSU is looking for their first win in Colorado Springs since 2004) (8:00 PM EST) and USC visiting California (USC has won 7 straight over California and hasn’t lost away from Los Angeles to Cal, since 2003) (9:00 PM EST/ESPN), both on Thursday. On Friday, Hawaii visits upstart San Jose State (9:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3); Hawaii has won 9 of the last 10 meetings.

Saturday football kicks off with an old fashioned Texas Showdown, between (#20) Baylor and (#21) Texas A&M (12:00 PM EST/FX). Apparently there is a game in East Lansing this week, or so I have been told – (#11) Michigan visits (#21) Michigan State (12:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3). After the early games, settle in to watch one of the most prolific offenses, as (#6) Oklahoma State visits (#22) Texas (3:30 PM EST/ABC/ESPN/ESPN3). Finally, (#18) Arizona State faces a conference road test, traveling to Eugene to face (#9) Oregon (10:15 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3).

Upset Watch

Northwestern (2-3) +6.0 @ Iowa (3-2). Northwestern has won 5 of the last 6 meetings straight up (average line favoring Iowa by 9, Northwestern has an average MOV over Iowa of 21-18 over that stretch). The favorite has lost the last six meetings, since 2005. Iowa has not beaten Northwestern in Iowa City since 2002. Since 2010, Coach Kirk Ferentz is 4-5 SU and 3-5-1 ATS in Big Ten games. Northwestern has averaged 29.5 points/game in Big Ten games this season (23.1 in Big Ten games last season, scoring 21 against Iowa). I like Northwestern to cover the points, and win, in Iowa City.

Idaho (1-5) +1.5 @ New Mexico State (2-3). Since 2006, New Mexico State has been favored in only 11 games (played 67 games since 2006 – 2007, 2008, and 2009 against Idaho); by contrast, Idaho has been favored in 16 games (played 68 games since 2006). Under Coach DeWayne Walker, the Aggies are 7-23, and 4-10 at home. Idaho is 18-38 under Coach Robb Akey and 5-22 (5-10 since 2009) on the road. Since 1997, Idaho is 9-4 SU (5-2 at Las Cruces) against New Mexico State and 8-5 ATS (4-1 ATS at Las Cruces) against the Aggies. New Mexico State is a much improved team, but games against good offenses in Bowling Green and Texas A&M have better prepared the Vandals for conference play than games against Minnesota, UTEP, and New Mexico prepared the Aggies. Take the Vandals to win.

@ Auburn (4-2) +2.0 Florida (4-2). John Brantley is out again this week for the Gators; Jacoby Brissett will likely start over freshman Jeff Driskel. Auburn has won 3 of the last 4 meetings. (Auburn is 4-0 ATS over that stretch, with an average score of 23.25-21 for Auburn). Florida has not won at Auburn since 1999. Since 2009, Florida is 2-7 against top 25 teams (1-3 on the road against top 25 teams); Florida is 6-6 in conference since last season (3-2 on the road). Florida should have an easier time scoring, after averaging 10.5 against the top two defenses in the SEC. Auburn has won 11 straight at home. An inexperienced QB, on the road, in a BCS conference? This is a loss for the Gators.

Western Kentucky (1-4) +2.5 Florida Atlantic (0-5). Florida Atlantic has their home opener, and stadium dedication game, for FAU Football Stadium, which seats 30,000. Since last year WKU is 3-14 (3-5 on the road) and FAU is 4-13 (2-2 at home). The teams have only met 3 times, as WKU became an FBS team in 2008, with FAU winning each contest, with the greatest MOV being 6 (average score of 23.3-19.7), but WKU is 2-1 ATS. FAU is 66th in run defense allowing 156 yards/game. WKY RB Bobby Rainey is 24th in the nation in rushing, averaging 115 yards/game (WKU is averaging 142.6 yards/game on the ground, good for 66th). As an FBS team, WKU is 18-21 ATS (11-7 ATS in the Sun Belt) (4-0 ATS as a single digit underdog last season). I like WKU to at least match their conference win total from last year (2-6 in 2010), with a win at FAU this week.

Baylor (4-1) +9.5 @ Texas A&M (3-2). Baylor is 19-23 under Coach Art Briles (23-18 ATS, 11-13 ATS underdog) and Texas A&M is 22-21 under Coach Mike Sherman (19-19 ATS, 13-10 ATS as a favorite). Baylor is 4-1 ATS and Texas A&M 1-4 ATS this season. The Aggies have faced Tyler Wilson (28th in QB rating; Arkansas is 9th in pass offense), Brandon Weeden (12th in QB rating; Oklahoma State is 2nd in pass offense), and Seth Doege (21st in QB rating; Texas Tech is 6th in pass offense) with the former two accounting for A&M’s losses (A&M beat Tech by 5 last week). The Aggies now face Robert Griffin III (2nd in QB rating). Texas A&M is 99th in total defense (7th in run defense, but 120th [LAST] in pass defense), giving up 348 yards/game passing. Baylor is 3rd in total offense (10th in run offense, 14th in pass offense). RG III is averaging 304 yards through the air (346 passing yards in loss to Kansas State). The Aggie defense will get absolutely torched. You do the math.


Sure-fire Favorite

Georgia (4-2) -11.0 @ Vanderbilt (3-2). Georgia is 13-1 SU against Vanderbilt since 1997, but, more importantly, is 8-6 ATS against Vanderbilt (average line of Georgia by 16; average score of 31-13). After starting off the year with two losses to Boise State and South Carolina, Georgia has won 4 straight, including 3 straight SEC games, with a MOV of 12. Vanderbilt is 1-2 in SEC play, being outscored by an average of 10 points/game (23 MOV over Ole Miss; 18 MOD against South Carolina; 34 MOD against Alabama). Vanderbilt faced the 3rd ranked defense last week and the ‘Dores were shut out; they face the 6th ranked defense this week and may be shut out, again. Vanderbilt’s offense is ranked 117th and the QB competition appears to be in full swing in Nashville. With Vanderbilt averaging 14.25 points/game against FBS opponents (only 3 points scored in last 2 games), Georgia averaging 26.8 points/game against FBS opponents, and a good Georgia defense, expect Georgia to win by at least 2 TDs.

Gameday Prediction

Mark Dantonio is 37-20 straight up at Michigan State. Coach Dantonio is 25-6 at home, 20-12 against the Big Ten, and 3-11 against the top 25. Coach Dantonio is 28-25-4 against the spread and 20-14-3 as a favorite against the spread at Michigan State.

Brady Hoke is 53-50 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State). Coach Hoke is 15-8 against the spread as an underdog and 43-23-2 overall since 2006.

Michigan State’s defense is ranked 1st (2nd passing [109.40 yards/game], 3rd rushing [64.00 yards/game]). Michigan’s offense is ranked 14th (105th passing [168.20 yards/game], 7th rushing [270.40 yards/game]).

Michigan State’s offense is ranked 61st (34th passing [269.20 yards/game], 79th rushing [128.80 yards/game]). Michigan’s defense is ranked 39th (39th passing [206.40 yards/game], 58th rushing [141.60 yards/game]).

Since 1997, Michigan is 9-5 straight up against Michigan State (6-7-1 against the spread). Michigan has averaged 367.1 offensive yards (293.3 the past three years against MSU), with 214.4 of those yards being passing (202 the past three years against MSU) and 152.7 rushing (91.3(!) the past three years against MSU).

The team with more rushing yards in this game is 12-2 since 1997 in this series.

Remember how I said to ignore the awful rank of Northwestern run defense last week? I’m tempted to give the same advice this week, when referring to Michigan State’s “stout” defense. Florida Atlantic’s offense ranks 118th (111th rushing – 86.80 yards/game), Central Michigan’s ranks 88th (94th rushing – 117.00 yards/game), Ohio’s ranks 105th (48th rushing – 169.00 yards/game), and Youngstown is an FCS team. The only good offense they faced, Notre Dame, 21st (31st rushing – 194.00 yards/game), was a game Michigan State lost. The teams Michigan State has beaten are a combined 7-15.

Against Ohio, the Spartans started So. Dan France (LT; played 7 games on DL as a Fr), Sr. Joel Foreman (LG; 36 career starts at LG going into 2011), Fr. Travis Jackson (C; no experience), Jr. Chris McDonald (RG; 12 career starts at RG going into 2011), Jr./JC Fou Tonoti (RT; no experience). The guards, Foreman and McDonald, have experience, with Foreman clearly anchoring the line.

Outside of the guards, there is ZERO experience playing offensive line. ZIP, ZILCH, NADA.

This is the game where we see what Coach Mattison can do as a Defensive Coordinator. He’s done a great job making second half adjustments. Michigan has outscored opponents 114-54 in the first half, but has done even better in the second half, outscoring opponents 114-21 in the second half; notably, Michigan has NOT been outscored in the second half.

Not one Michigan player has played in a win over Michigan State.  That changes on Saturday.

Michigan +3.0 @ Michigan State.

Michigan 38 Michigan State 24.


One response

  1. Pingback: Before Visiting The Sportsbook - New Content Added: Week of October 9th

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