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Michigan won and covered three times in a row against Penn State into last season, but the Nittany Lions put a wallop on the Wolverines last year in Happy Valley. Who’s the smart bet for Saturday afternoon’s Big Ten East showdown at the Big House?
College football point spread: The Wolverines opened as 11.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 32.6-32.1 Nittany Lions (College football picks on every game)
Why the Penn State Nittany Lions can cover the spread
Penn State rides a two-game winning streak into this week, following its 30-24 come-from-behind victory over Iowa last week. The Lions spotted the Hawkeyes the first 12 points of the game, then used a 27-5 run spanning the halves to take a 10-point lead and hung on from there
On the day, as the offense struggled with quarterback Trace McSorley hobbled by a sore leg, the Penn State defense held Iowa to just 350 yards and without an offensive touchdown. All the points the Hawkeyes scored came on two safeties, two field goals, a fake field goal for a touchdown and a pick-six.
The Lions are 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS on the road this season. They’re also 3-3 SU and 6-0 ATS their last six times out as underdogs on the betting line.
Why the Michigan Wolverines can cover the spread
Michigan carries a seven-game winning streak into this week, and a three-game ATS winning streak, after taking care of business at Michigan State two weeks ago 21-7, covering as a seven-point favorites. The Wolverines then enjoyed last week off.
Michigan drew first blood against the rival Spartans with a touchdown early in the second quarter, then later broke a 7-7 tie with touchdowns on consecutive possessions in the second half. On the day, the Wolverines defense allowed just 94 yards of MSU offense and held the Spartans to a 0-for-12 effort on third-down conversions. Michigan also out-rushed Michigan State 183-15 and dominated time of possession by a 41/19 split.
The Wolverines have now out-gained their five Big Ten opponents this season by an average of 248 yards. At 5-0 in conference play, Michigan leads the Big Ten East by a game over Ohio State and two games over Penn State.
Smart betting pick
The Nittany Lions won this matchup last year 42-13, but these teams have traded places in the Big Ten hierarchy since then. This Wolverines defense might be the best in the country, while McSorley is considered questionable for this game with a sore leg. And if he isn’t anywhere near 100 percent the Lions are in big trouble. The smart money here gives the points with Michigan.
College football betting trends
The total has gone over in Penn State’s last three games vs Michigan.
Penn State is 1-7 SU in its last eight games on the road vs Michigan.
Michigan is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games at home.
All college football odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week’s top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.