Analyzing the Point Spread: Michigan State -20.5 vs. Rutgers
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Piscataway, NJ where college football teams go to rescue their seasons.
Michigan State, currently mired in a five-game losing streak, travels out to the east coast to take on Rutgers in a game the Spartans must have to retain their shot at making a bowl game.
Oddsmakers feel that a matchup against the Scarlet Knights is exactly what MSU needs to get back on track as the Spartans are a big 20.5 point favorite against lowly Rutgers.
Odds via BetMGM. Access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated November 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Let’s take a look at how the line is being bet and what that might tell us about this matchup.
First, the opening. This line opened at MSU -23 at Circa Sports book. (Reminder, Circa Sportsbook has been consistently the first book to post lines, followed by offshore books, followed by bigger onshore books.)
By time the big books (William Hill, Westgate, Caesers, etc.) opened their lines, MSU had dropped to -20. Clearly there was some money come in on Rutgers early and that makes sense. Michigan State is totally reeling. Rutgers *might* feel like they finally have a chance to win a conference game. Michigan State under Dantonio almost never covers when they’re three touchdown favorites and MSU is a meager 2-8 against the number this season. There’s not a lot of reason to be confident in betting on the Spartans right now.
Next we look at the current line and how the public is betting it. The number sits at 20.5 as of publishing with 75% of public bets on Michigan State.
I just said there’s not a lot of reason to be confident in betting on the Spartans right now, so why is the public betting on the Spartans? Well, the public is generally bad at betting! They don’t build skyscrapers in the desert for nothing. Really though, there are a couple of concrete factors here. By dropping from 23 to 20 the line went through the three touchdown margin. It’s only a few points, but in betting those points really matter. Michigan State is a much more appealing bet at -20 than at -23 because three touchdowns is -21. Makes sense, right? Also, that +23 number was probably gobbled up by sharp money.
Let’s look. little deeper into the line movement.
The red line represents the spread. The blue line represents the split in bet percentage. See how on the far right of the graph it sits right at 25%? That’s because Rutgers is getting 25% of the bets. I want to focus on that spot where the red line juts down to -21 then right back up to -20.5. At the point the line moved to -21 Rutgers was getting about 10% of the bets. Then immediately after the line moved to 21 Rutgers shot up to about 30% of bets and the line jumped back to 20.5. Oddsmakers tested the waters of MSU -21 and it was absolutely gobbled up. That indicates sharp money. I highly doubt the line moves back to 21 again because of how aggressively it was bet last time.
Stitching all of this information together we have a line that was seemingly hit by big money early in favor of Rutgers. As it settled in the public started backing Michigan State, but not enough to move the line much. That indicates more big money bets are on Rutgers. Then the line moves to 21 for a moment before it is immediately bet back to 20.5 where it has sat by consensus since then.
I think books are comfortable with that line. I think they’re comfortable with how the money is dispersed in this game. I think the books and sharps are both siding with Rutgers on this one.
Then we factor in where Michigan State is at in terms of on-field product, how these two have matched up in the past and Danotnio team’s having an inability to cover big numbers and it feels like we can feel good about knowing which side is the right side.
The Pick: Rutgers +20.5
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