College Football Betting Advice: Go Against Michigan in Big Ten Play
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 11/16/2010
On Sept. 27, 2008, at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rich Rodriguez coached the Wolverines in his first ever Big Ten Conference game. Michigan trailed 19-0 entering the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines would rally to win, 27-25, as four-point underdogs and make a winner out of Rodriguez in his Big Ten Conference debut.
Turns out the first three quarters of the game are what fans of the program could come to expect for the next three seasons rather than the fourth-quarter comeback.
Since abandoning his alma mater, West Virginia University, after the 2007 season, Rodriguez has struggled immensely in his new conference.
His spread option offense that flourished in the Big East has fallen flat in the Big Ten. The only thing more rare than Big Ten Conference wins since Rodriguez arrived, are games in which the Wolverines cover the spread against conference foes.
Michigan is 5-17 SU in conference play the last three seasons and 3-20 ATS under Rodriguez. Those numbers include a 0-6 run ATS in Big Ten play this season.
That record in itself is the biggest strike against Rodriguez, who seemingly had things finally coming together this season with a quarterback, Denard Robinson, who fit his offense. But the spread is not working in the Big Ten, where players are bigger and linebackers are faster. Robinson has struggled to stay healthy just as his predecessors under center have.
Rodriguez has always struggled since arriving in 2008, including posting a 3-9 record, worst in school history, in his first year. There was improvement last season when Michigan started the season 4-0, but then conference play started.
It turns out that Michigan’s struggles have been limited just to conference play. The last two seasons the Wolverines are a perfect 8-0 SU (7-1 ATS) in nonconference games.
It has been a night-and-day difference, though, when the conference schedule rolls around.
This season Michigan won its last two Big Ten conference games, but failed to cover in both. At home against Illinois Michigan survived in triple overtime, winning 67-65 as three-point favorites and just last week Michigan edged Purdue, 27-16, as 13-point favorites.
There are still two weeks to take advantage of Michigan’s poor numbers against the spread. On Saturday Michigan hosts Wisconsin as 4.5-point underdogs. The same team that Rodriguez got off on the right foot against back in 2008 pounded the Wolverines 45-24 last season. Another blowout could be in the works. And then in the season finale Michigan travels to rival Ohio State.
The entire Big Ten Conference has owned Rodriguez and Michigan but Ohio State has owned Michigan even before Rodriguez’s arrival in 2008. Ohio State has won the last six meetings against Michigan and covered the spread in five of the six games.
Two weeks left of Big Ten football mean two weeks left for college football handicappers to get rich at the expense of Rich Rodriguez. His futility against Big Ten competition is one of the strongest trends in the game.
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