Not too long ago, the Michigan Wolverines lost four in a row in the series with the Penn State Nittany Lions. But they've now won the last three meetings, covering the spread each time, including that 49-10 rout last year. In a big game in the Big Ten, East Michigan battles Penn State on Saturday night in Happy Valley.
College football point spread: The Nittany Lions opened as 12.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (line updates and matchup report available here)
College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 37.1-21.4 Nittany Lions (college football picks on every game available here)
Why the Michigan Wolverines can cover the spread
Michigan just picked up its second Big Ten road victory of this season, outlasting Indiana in overtime last week 27-20. The Wolverines led 13-0 early and 20-10 late, let the Hoosiers score twice in the last four minutes to tie and then won it in OT with a 25-yard touchdown run from Karan Higdon and a defensive stand from the 1-yard line.
On the afternoon, Michigan, powered mainly by Higdon, outgained Indiana 329-278, outrushed the Hoosiers 271-80 and won time of possession by a 35/25 split. Also, after committing five turnovers in that loss to Michigan State the week previous, the Wolverines committed zero last week.
And much to the delight of financial backers who bet on it early in the week, Michigan covered as a six-point favorite.
The Wolverines, thanks mainly to the top-ranked defense in the country, have now outgained each of their six opponents this season and outrushed five of them.
Why the Penn State Nittany Lions can cover the spread
Penn State moved to 6-0 on the season with its 31-7 victory at Northwestern two weeks ago. The Lions then enjoyed last week off.
Penn State started slowly against the Wildcats, only leading 10-0 at the half, and then pulled away by scoring the first 21 points out of the locker room on its way toward covering a two-touchdown spread.
The Lions outgained Northwestern 381-265, won the turnover battle 3-0 and held a 34/26 time of possession advantage.
Three weeks ago Penn State blew out that same Indiana team Michigan struggled with 45-14, covering a 20-point spread. In fact, the Lions had that spread covered in the first nine minutes of the game.
Penn State's offensive Heisman candidates get most of the ink, but its defense ranks No. 9 in the country overall and No. 1 in points allowed. Meanwhile, Michigan is struggling mightily at the quarterback position, with starter Wilton Speight injured and out. Also, the Wolverines embarrassed the Lions last year, so revenge could be a factor. Smart money here plays Penn State.
College football betting trends
The total has gone over in four of Michigan's last five games against Penn State.
Penn State is 13-1-1 ATS in its last 15 games.
Michigan is 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight games in October.
All college football odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.