2013-14 Michigan State Spartans Predictions and College Football Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/19/2013
There is opportunity in the Big Ten. Ohio State is very good. The next tier of teams, though — Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Nebraska — all have talent and potential but are also plagued by questions that make their seasons uncertain. Any team can position themselves to be a contender and to pick up the pieces if things fall apart ahead of them.
The problem for Michigan State is that that was the same situation as last year, and the Spartans fell spectacularly short of being able to show they are an elite team — at least relative to the conference they play in. A record of 7-6 is not good enough — especially when five of those losses came at home, and one was against a pretty terrible Iowa squad. This team simply needs to be much, much better. I am surely far from the only one who doubts whether they have the potential to do that.
If you want to find the silver lining last year, it could be that they didn’t lose badly when they lost. Five of their six defeats were by four points or less. It’s important not to get dragged too far into that argument, though, and allow it to make you think that the team is better than they are. Despite losing close games, they were just 5-8 ATS on the season, so they were losing games they should have won and were underachieving expectations. A close loss isn’t a good loss when you were supposed to win.
The Spartans return eight starters on offense. That’s not necessarily the good news that it could be in other situations. For one, running back Le’Veon Bell is not one of those returning players. He was the star of an oft-challenged offense — one that was just 110th in the country in points scored — and a convenient outlet for QB Andrew Maxwell. Maxwell is a senior QB starter this year, but the big problem is that he just isn’t very good. He completed just 52.5 percent of his passes last year and is far too easy for good defenses to contain and limit. At this point I really feel like the team would be better off if Maxwell wasn’t coming back — no matter how experienced he is.
Michigan State Schedule Analysis
In the fourth week of the season the Spartans travel to South Bend for a very tough game at Notre Dame. They clearly decided that was enough of a challenge for the nonconference schedule this year, because they precede that game with three very easy home nonconference tilts against Western Michigan, South Florida and Youngstown State. Because of that schedule and the first four conference opponents — Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, and Illinois — there is a decent chance that the team could be at 7-1 heading into the meat of their conference schedule. There is also a very good chance that that record won’t necessarily match their true abilities.
Things get tough in the first three weeks of November. They start by hosting hated rivals Michigan. Then they go on the road for consecutive games against Nebraska and Northwestern. If they are still standing after those three games then they get some respite to close the season as they host Minnesota.
2013-14 Michigan State Betting Odds and Trends
The Spartans are not a team that people are taking seriously — they are +12500 to win the National Championship, and there is no value in that price. They are just the fourth choice at +325 to win the Big Ten Legends Division, and they are +750 to win the Big Ten. They open their season at home against Western Michigan, and they are favored by 24 points. (All odds are from BetOnline) It was a very disappointing season for the Spartans last year — unless you consistently bet against them. They were an ugly 4-8 ATS, and the “over” was just 2-9-1 when betting totals. The Spartans are an ugly 20-35 ATS in their last 55 home games.
2013-14 Michigan State Spartans Predictions and College Football Picks
I don’t believe in this team. They have lost their mojo lately under Mark Dantonio, and I don’t think they believe that they are a real contender — nor should they. The defense will again be solid, but the offense is a mess, and the team will struggle. They should improve on their 6-6 mark from last year only because their schedule is soft with eight weaker opponents and Michigan at home. Eight wins is a good target for this squad, and I am reasonably confident they will hit it. That won’t really mean that they have improved significantly from last year, though.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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