Michigan lost by a touchdown at Notre Dame to open the season, and everyone assumed the Wolverines’ College Football Playoff hopes were done.
Some even speculated that Jim Harbaugh would be unemployed soon, with games against Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State still on the schedule.
Well, Michigan (6-1) now looks like the class of the Big Ten, with Ohio State’s defense looking shaky. And that game against Wisconsin? It turned into a 38-13 rout for the Wolverines.
There are all sorts of stats about Michigan State against the spread as an underdog and against Michigan in the last decade. Ignore them.
Yes, I know the Spartans just beat Penn State as a 13½-point underdog. But Michigan State isn’t great at running the football, which Michigan defends very well. I expect to see the Spartans in a lot of third-and-long.
I also expect Shea Patterson to take on some designed quarterback runs for Michigan while taking advantage of third-and-short.
Take the value on Michigan, as the Wolverines soon could be in the middle of the CFP conversation. I like Michigan, a 7-point favorite, to win by double digits.
Four more plays (home team in CAPS):
North Carolina State (+17½) over CLEMSON: Trevor Lawrence finally is healthy and settled as the unquestioned starting quarterback for Clemson. Sophomore running back Travis Etienne is a star. This isn’t the same team that squeaked out so many close wins in the last 14 months. But N.C. State QB Ryan Finley, a potential first-round NFL draft pick, has completed almost 70 percent of his passes. Finley’s quick release can help neutralize Clemson’s pass rush. The Wolfpack defense has been as good as last season’s, even after losing its entire defensive line to the NFL. Clemson won this matchup by 15, 7 and 7 points the last three years.
Auburn (-3½) over MISSISSIPPI: Ranked No. 9 in the preseason, Auburn is in danger of missing a bowl game if it loses in Oxford. There’s talk that Gus Malzahn’s job could be discussed despite his $32 million buyout. Well, Ole Miss’ defense is a powerful elixir. More important, Ole Miss’ offensive numbers are a house of cards. Against LSU and Alabama, the Rebels averaged 11.5 points on 4.5 yards per play. Auburn’s defense arguably is better than both those teams.
PURDUE (+13) over Ohio State: The Buckeyes are starting to show cracks. Their defense has allowed 22 plays of at least 30 yards, tied for 120th in the nation. They also haven’t been able to spring big plays with their running game. Now playing for an eighth consecutive week, Ohio State faces a Purdue offense that ranks sixth in the country in gains of at least 30 yards.
ARKANSAS (-6) over Tulsa: Chad Morris is looking for his first FBS win at Arkansas after losing fourth-quarter leads to Colorado State and Ole Miss. But the Razorbacks have been playing much better on offense and have rewarded bettors with three consecutive covers. Tulsa’s offense ranks 104th in the S&P+ ratings and has struggled passing the ball.
Last week: 4-1 ATS