College Football Week 5 Picks: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans
Running back Le'Veon Bell figures to play a prominent role in Saturday's Big Ten Conference showdown between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans inside Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
The Spartans are currently 2.5-point home favorites in the Week 5 college football betting odds (courtesy of SBR Forum), while the over/under has moved down a full point from its opening number to settle in at 42.
Let's take a closer look at this marquee affair from a betting perspective, while also offering an against-the-spread pick along the way.
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The Ohio State Buckeyes will certainly be looking for revenge in this contest, as they suffered a 10-7 setback to the Michigan State Spartans as three-point home favorites last year.
Saturday's visitor has won seven of the last eight meetings in this series, while covering four of its last five trips to East Lansing.
Sports bettors will also be drawn into backing the Buckeyes due to their 19-7 against-the-spread (ATS) record on the road against Big Ten opponents.
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The Michigan State Spartans have won 32 of 36 games under head coach Mark Dantonio when leading in time of possession, and that could come into play here since the Spartans are ranked sixth nationally in that category in 2012.
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer is known for running an up-tempo offense, but he may want to slow things down with his team hitting the road for the first time.
Le'Veon Bell is a very important piece to this puzzle, especially with the Spartans winning 20 of their last 21 games when outgaining an opponent on the ground.
He leads the Big Ten in rushing entering the week, averaging 152.5 yards per game, while checking in second nationally behind Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson.
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Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller is averaging 110.2 rushing yards per game, but he's going to have a hard time being a dual-threat against one of the best defense in the nation.
The Michigan State Spartans rank 10th nationally in allowing just 69.3 rushing yards per game, which isn't that surprising after they led the conference in total defense a year ago.
Miller struggled in last year's meeting in this series, completing 5-of-10 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown, while finishing with minus-27 yards rushing.
The sophomore signal-caller has tallied an 8-6 record as a starter during his time in Columbus.
Las Vegas Perspective
I reached out to Jimmy Vaccaro earlier this week about this high-profile affair, as he serves as the Public Relations Director for William Hill US, and here's what he had to say:
It's not much of a secret that Michigan State doesn't have a lot on offense. Will they score enough to beat a quarterback like Braxton Miller? Well, that defense can certainly slow him down. Defense wins over offense in this game, in my opinion. I wouldn't read too much into any advantage Michigan State might have with the home field. It's worth the normal 2.5 points, nothing spectacular. Look at the teams instead, and Ohio State's defense has struggled so far. I'm going to predict a final score of 20-14, with Michigan State coming out on top.
William Hill opened up the Spartans as three-point home favorites in the betting market, but that number has fallen to 2.5.
I'm going to recommend that readers add the Michigan State Spartans as one of their Week 5 college football picks this Saturday, as I expect them to improve to 7-0 ATS when playing a game when the betting line is plus-three to minus-three since 2010.
Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio has consistently done a great job of getting his team ready for these types of hard-hitting affairs, which is clearly demonstrated in the program's 10-1 record in games decided by 10 points or less over the last three campaigns.
College Football Week 5 Pick: Michigan State Spartans -2.5