NCAAF Week 6 Picks: Under Looks Good for Blustery Ohio State vs. Michigan State Matchup

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Payton Thorne #10 of the Michigan State Spartans looks to throw a pass in the second half of a game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Mike Mulholland/Getty Images/AFP.

Money money money, hubba hubba hubba. Our Week 5 college football picks went 4-2 here at the home office, including a fat +220 payout when the TCU Horned Frogs upset the Oklahoma Sooners 55-24. And there was much rejoicing.

We even managed to squeeze some value out of fading the Ohio State Buckeyes. They beat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 49-10, which was more than enough to cover the 34.5-point spread at the close, except we had Rutgers at +41 earlier in the week.

Now we’ve got Ohio State heading to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans, who are getting 25.5 points on the NCAAF odds board at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review). Our delightful new analytic models definitely like Michigan State here, but they’d much rather take that Under 63 at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review). Let’s find out why.

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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans

Saturday, October 08, 2022 – 04:00 PM EDT at Spartan Stadium

Is Ohio State the Best Team in College Football?

They are by at least one measurement. The fine folks at top-rated sportsbooks have the Buckeyes (5-0 SU, 2-2-1 ATS) ranked No. 1 overall according to Simple Rating System, which takes the final margins of victory and adjusts them for strength of schedule.

Ohio State check in at plus-24.82, which means you’d expect them to beat an average FBS team by about 25 points. We’re still waiting for the Week 6 F+ Ratings at Football Outsiders as we go to press, but heading into Week 5, OSU’s offense ranked first overall in efficiency, with the defense lagging at No. 12.

Not exactly the kind of split we want for our Under pick. We do have updated SP+ numbers at ESPN, though, and again, they have Ohio State’s offense ranked first overall, with the defense climbing to No. 8.

That might reflect the pounding they gave Rutgers, who were held to 187 total yards of offense despite controlling the ball for over 33 minutes.

What Happened to the Spartans?

Three straight losses, that’s what. Michigan State looked pretty good during their early-season cupcake wins, but they’ve fallen to 2-3 SU and ATS since the competition level increased.

Sparty were single-digit underdogs in each game, and they lost by double digits. The good news: They’re still better than the average team, at least according to Simple Rating System, where the Spartans are keeping their heads above water at plus-2.23 SRS. That’s enough to make them worth a shot at +25.5, maybe for the usual one-unit wager. It’s definitely concerning the way

Michigan State have collapsed on both sides of the ball. It’s hard to say which side has been worse at this point, but the updated SP+ numbers have Sparty at No. 32 on offense and No. 41 on defense. Again, not the splits we want for the Under.

How’s the Weather in East Lansing?

Brisk. October is rearing its ugly head, bringing chillier conditions to the Great Lakes region. Saturday’s forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-50s at game time, with crosswinds of 10-15 mph blowing across Spartan Stadium.

This is very important for our NCAAF picks. The temperature isn’t likely to change the outcome too much; it’s that wind we’re counting on to disrupt both offenses and make it more difficult to march the ball downfield.

Blustery conditions will also make life miserable for the place-kickers. And the Spartans special teams are already miserable as it is, ranking No. 125 in SP+ out of the 131 FBS teams.

This isn’t all on the kickers, of course; long snapper Hank Pepper also struggled during last week’s 27-13 loss to the Maryland Terrapins (-7.5 at home).

Spartans and Buckeyes' Areas of Improvement

There is definitely a kicking problem with Sparty, though, and it’s one of the reasons they have the Under at 4-1 this year. Freshman Jack Stone missed two of his first three field-goal attempts, so Auburn grad transfer Ben Patton got the nod against Maryland, and he missed a figgie of his own before Stone was pressed into duty again.

Don’t laugh too much, Buckeyes fans: Your special teams are also in the muck at No. 93 overall. Maybe OSU’s kicking isn’t the main culprit with All-American Noah Ruggles going 2-for-3 on field goals and nailing all 34 of his points after touchdowns.

This is still the one facet of the game where Ohio State aren’t getting it done. It’s also one of the classic old-school reasons Michigan State have betting value this Saturday.

But our models prefer the Under, and those crosswinds will definitely work to our advantage if the weather report holds up. Make your college football picks accordingly.

NCAAF Pick: Under 63 (-108) at Heritage Sports

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Under 63 (-108)
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