The Oregon Ducks enter their second week on the gridiron backed by a high flying offense, a ridiculous 16-1 record in their past 17 games at home, and a crazy average of 51.2 points per game during that streak. So is it any wonder they’re favored by 12 points this week over the visiting Spartans from Michigan State?
Well, kind of.
Michigan State will be facing the Ducks with some heat of their own, according to Sports Illustrated, marching into Eugene carrying a record of 16 straight-up victories in their last 17 games, just like Oregon, and going 12-4-1 against the spread (ATS) during that same time.
So why the lopsided 12-point spread? Do the odds-makers in Vegas really believe the Oregon Ducks are 12-points better than the Stanford-beating, Rose Bowl winning, Spartans? Or does Vegas just think that there are enough rabid Ducks’ fans out there that believe a several touchdown Oregon pummeling of Michigan State is forthcoming?
Either way, this Week 2 “marquee” college football match up between the Oregon Ducks and Michigan State Spartans promises to be an interesting contest, but particularly for the betting public given the 12-point spread.
Speaking of the large spread, SI also reports that the Spartans haven’t been a double-digit underdog since 2009. Prognosticators that pay heed to trends should also note that Michigan State is 8-0-1 ATS in its last nine games as an underdog, and 6-3 straight up in those games, including a firm 34-24 beating of favored Ohio State in last year’s Big Ten championship game.
The Oregon Ducks, meanwhile, are 7-5 ATS in their last 12 home games, but potential bettors might consider that the Ducks are 0-3 ATS most recently at home.
But still, this is the high-octane, point-scoring machine Oregon Ducks and the only team that has really given them recent problems (besides the inexplicable 2013 shellacking delivered by Arizona last season) is the stout defense and hard-running offense of Stanford, right?
Well, guess what? The Detroit Free Press confirms that Michigan State plays a “physical, blitz-heavy defense and physical, run-heavy offense”, much like Stanford. The same Stanford that beat the Oregon Ducks, but lost to Michigan State in last year’s Rose Bowl, 24-20.
“Their (Oregon Ducks’) nemesis, their kryptonite in recent years has been Stanford,” said Fox analyst, Charles Davis. “What’s Stanford’s style of play? Heavy-duty running the ball on offense, being extremely physical, excellent tackling team on defense, which makes you run more plays. All those yards after catch, yards after contact, open-field plays that Oregon’s used to getting, that hidden yardage, they weren’t getting against Stanford.”
Such analysis surely must raise the eye-brows of those considering a wager on the Ducks hammering the Spartans by at least 12 points. But beyond the high spread, what do the Oregon Ducks really have at stake this weekend when Michigan State invades their home turf? After all, it’s only the second week of their season. Says Davis:
“So for Oregon to win the Pac-12, they have to beat Stanford. They know that, they have to get past that hump. For Oregon to clearly get into that playoff consideration and have the chance to be an undefeated team, they have to beat Stanford twice this year. And what I mean by that is, Michigan State is Stanford.”
Only Saturday will tell. Both teams took home huge victories in Week 1, Michigan State walloping the Gamecocks 45-7 while also covering the substantial -34.5 spread, and the Oregon Ducks steam rolling the Coyotes, 62-13, though the Ducks did not cover the even more gargantuous -54-point favorite.
Image via Online Athens