Odds On Favorite: The 2016 Shifting Odds

Submitted by jamiemac on October 14th, 2016 at 8:29 AM

(Guess what? I published a book this offseason. It’s about baseball. The Cubs. The White Sox. And that one time they played each other in the World Series. Check it out. It’s only available via Amazon Kindle right now, but a paperback, print on demand option is in the works)
 
With Wisconsin-Michigan two weeks ago and Wisconsin-Ohio State this weekend, it feels like the premier conference games in the Big Ten will soon be in the rear view mirror. But there are still 10 games left on the schedule that oddsmakers deemed important enough games in the summer to release an early line on. Eventually, we’ll be making picks on all of them, so let’s go ahead and compare the odds today to the ones six weeks ago.
 
(All lines below, and throughout the post, per 5Dimes as of 10/13)
 
 

Game

Summer Odds, 8/31

Current Odds, 10/13

Ohio St. at Penn St.

Ohio St. -10

Ohio St. -21

Wisky at Iowa

Iowa –3.5

Wisconsin -3

Nebraska at Wisky

Wisconsin -3

Wisconsin –5.5

Michigan at MSU

Michigan -3

Michigan –13.5

Nebraska at OSU

Ohio St. -15

Ohio St. –20.5

Iowa at Penn St.

Iowa –1.5

Penn St. -1

Michigan at Iowa

Michigan –3.5

Michigan –10.5

Ohio St. at MSU

Ohio St. -6

Ohio St. –18.5

Nebraska at Iowa

Iowa –4.5

Iowa -1

Michigan at Ohio St

Ohio St. –5.5

Ohio St. –8.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts:

Alright, so a lot of the luster has worn off plenty of the games above. Juicy storylines have been reduced to simply ‘How much will Michigan and Ohio State win by?’ and ‘How bad will Michigan State look today?’

Every line has shifted at least two points.

Two games list a different favorite compared to the summer line: Wisconsin at Iowa and Iowa at Penn State. In both cases, the Hawkeyes fell from the favorite to the underdog. The defending West Champions aren’t even favored to beat Penn State anymore. But it makes sense considering the S&P only projects wins against Purdue and Illinois the rest of the way.

The odds aren’t any better for Iowa’s counterpart in last year’s B1G Title Game.  Michigan State has seen the biggest line movement against a team in the remaining listed conference games with that 12.5-point swing in the Ohio State game. The 10-point swing in the Michigan game in two weeks is the third biggest swing on the above list. It’s not going well for the Spartans.

Chalk won’t sweep against the spread. That’s a good bet. But which underdogs will cover? I like the two Thanksgiving weekend with Nebraska over Iowa and Michigan over Ohio State. I also think the Huskers ought to be improved enough to stay within three touchdowns of the Buckeyes.

The smallest line swings are in the two games most now figure to settle both division titles: Nebraska at Wisconsin and Michigan at Ohio State.

Of course, the stakes are expected to be higher than a possible division title game for The Game next month. It’s shaping up to be a playoff elimination game. And the Heisman Trophy could be up for the grabs. Over at 5Dimes, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers and OSU’s JT Barrett are the third and fourth shortest odds on the board at 8/1 and 10/1 respectively. They’re both chasing the still-as-of-now two team race between Lamar Jackson and DeShaun Watson, who check this week in at –170 and +300 for the award. But it’s worth pointing out that Jackson at one point was –550 to win, so the Louisville quarterback at least is coming back to the betting pack

However, if it breaks right over the next six weeks, Michigan-Ohio State could not only be between the two top ranked teams in the country, but it could also be between the two leading Heisman candidates with the added unique twist of one of the candidates trying to tackle the other.

But we have a long way to go until then. Including this weekend. Here are this week’s B1G picks and more…..

Indiana +3 over Nebraska: Richard Lagow and Tommy Armstrong are 1-2 in the B1G in yards per pass. This unlikely quarterback duel will likely turn on which improved secondary holds up better. Nebraska and Indiana are 4th and 6th in the B10 in yards per pass allowed, a year after being 12th and 10th respectively. The Hoosiers are 19th in passing success rate against and 44th in passing down success rate against. They were 87th and 109th in those categories a year ago. Nebraska has nine interceptions after just 10 swipes a year ago and their 11.3% defensive back havoc rate is third best in the country.

1936_Nebraska_vs_IndianaMany though Indiana’s Kevin Wilson was too conservative  against Ohio State in his play calling in the red zone and relied way too heavily overall on the running game. Twenty five of Indiana's first 35 plays against OSU were rushes. But Wilson has said this season he's doing something he's never done at Indiana before and that's coaching to allow his improved defense to win the Hoosiers the game. So he was fine pounding the rock, shortening the game, and trying to avoid that big mistake to open the game up. Past Indiana teams would have zero shot if they could not score on every possession. For long stretches of the game, this strategy worked. Ohio State had 15 possessions and nine of them went nowhere, totaling 31 plays before a punt or a turnover ended it. The Bucks averaged just 4.0 yards per play over their first six drives. And in the second half, they could not shake the Hoosiers thanks to a four drive stretch when Indiana allowed just 41 yards. The plan unraveled thanks to a Lagow turnover and a 91-yard kickoff return that set OSU up with first half touchdown drives of six and nine yards. Despite that, the game was still in the winnable category well into the fourth quarter thanks to a defense that held the Buckeyes 1.88 yards per play before their season average.

Both teams should feast on the ground. The Hoosier D remains vulnerable against the run. That will be a problem against Armstrong's dual threat abilities and his two feature backs Terrell Newby and Devine Ozigbo. But look for Indiana's running game to finally get going some against a Nebraska defense that's 80th in standard down defensive success rate and 102nd in yards per rush. Don’t be surprised if Devine Redding goes over 100 yards for the fourth time this season. Indiana's passing game will have more success against Nebraska's improved pass defense than the other way around. Nebraska has some improved numbers, but they're still 87th nationally in defensive pass success rate. The Hoosiers passing success rate was above 50% for three straight games before facing the Buckeyes. But that's an elite defense with elite athletes. Nebraska's defense is improved, but not the same. All of Nebraska's games this season have been undecided in the fourth quarter. So will this one.  I'll take the home dog, expecting the Hoosiers and their healthier receiving corps to make the big plays in the second half putting them over the top.

Rutgers +6 over Illinois: Do we have records for how teams do the week after losing as double digit favorites to Purdue? What about teams coming off a 78-point loss? There really couldn't be any better momentum for this game than the combination of Illinois coming off a loss to Purdue and Rutgers coming off an 11-touchdown thrashing. It's a critical game in the race to the bottom. Rutgers has fallen below Kansas and is now the worst ranked Power-5 team in the S&P Rankings. You always have to pick against the team falling below Kansas in any rankings. Those are the rules, right? But we’re breaking the rules here. Illinois would probably be below Kansas too if they had just played Ohio State and Michigan in consecutive weeks. There is a  real storyline activated if Illinois officially makes a quarterback switch. Besides, as long as Rutgers isn’t playing a top-10 team, they’re outscoring their FBS opponents this year and own covers against New Mexico and Iowa. Is this really that much harder?

Iowa –11.5 over Purdue: I actually looked up how Purdue does the week after a win. It took two minutes. Since it's Purdue, the numbers aren't pretty. They've lost eight 1944_Purdue_vs_Iowa-Pre-Flightstraight the week after a win, covering the spread in just two of those games. Since 2008, the Boilers are just 5-23 SU, 8-19-1 ATS the week after a win. They have not won consecutive games since the final two games of the 2012 season. They should be just the tonic Iowa's struggling offense needs. The Hawkeyes haven't been able to sustain drives for weeks. Twenty of their last 53 drives dating back to the North Dakota State game have been a three and out or worse. If they can't get anything going against a Boiler defense that's in the bottom third of the country in every defensive success rate category, including 104th in overall efficiency, then it's only going to get uglier with some bigger tests ahead in conference play.

Minnesota +7 over Maryland: Here's the Conor Rhoda dossier. He takes over as quarterback for the Gophers with Mitch Leidner out with a concussion. It'll break a streak of 27 straight starts for Leidner, but will Minnesota really be worse for wear passing the ball with the backup? In two close losses to start conference play, Leidner's play has been a problem for the Gophers. On third down passes in those losses, he was 5-for-18, 49 yards and two interceptions.  For some reason the Gophers put the game in his hands last week against Iowa. After taking a 7-6 lead early in the third quarter, the Gophers couldn't generate any offense the rest of the way. Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith combined for only four carries after that, while Leidner went through a stretch of 14 dropbacks or runs gaining just 26 yards and tossing an interception. He hit some throws on the Gophers last ditch drive, but eventually threw four straight incompletions ending Minnesota's final hope. All of this is to say that Maryland is nearly a full touchdown chalk here because of the Gophers' QB situation, but I am not afraid of it. Playing Rhoda might force the Gophers strategy back to what they do best: pound the rock with their stable of tailbacks. And they shouldn't have much of a problem doing that against a Maryland defense that allowed a 53% rushing success rate and 6.0 yards per carry against Penn State a week ago. The Terps looked shaky on both sides of the ball in their first test against FBS bowl caliber competition. I can't back them as a favorite so soon after that, especially when the best side in this game is probably going to be the Gophers defense.

Northwestern +7 over Michigan State: A year after combining for a 22-5 record, Northwestern and Michigan State meet with disappointing 2-3 mark. They’ve lost five games between them as a favorite. The S&P projects that each team has at least a 70% chance of finishing 5-7 or worse. The MSUProgloser of this game faces a hard road back to bowl game, making this a critical swing game in the chase for the league’s Quick Lane bowl bid. As we approach midseason, the Spartans know who their tailbacks and wide receivers are, but not much else. Name the positional unit and they are shuffling it in East Lansing. Injuries have forced their hand way too much at linebacker and offensive line. They've had three different starting offensive lines in five games with a trio of different starters already at each guard spot. Does anybody on the staff even know the quarterback depth chart? After Malik McDowell, their best defensive lineman are probably the freshmen backups. A fourth freshman might join that mix if they burn Auston Robertson’s this weekend. The secondary is a total mess, allowing FBS foes to pass for over eight yards an attempt. If ever a team needed a bye week to take a step back and sort things out it's MSU. Too bad they had their bye week a month ago. It's been a mediocre start for State. It's also been a mediocre year also for our picks. We're basically fighting for bowl eligibility too. Picking against the Spartans is the one thing that's worked in our favor almost every week. Why change now?

Wisconsin +11 over Ohio State: Wisconsin has covered the spread as double digit underdogs this season against LSU, MSU, and Michigan, winning those first two games outright. The Badgers are now 14-6-1 ATS when catching points since the beginning of the 2008 season. Can they conjure up that underdog magic again against the Buckeyes? Unlike those previous showdowns earlier this season, this one is one their home turf at Camp Randall Stadium. But the Buckeyes won’t mind. There is not a better road football team in the country than Ohio State. Under Urban Meyer, the Bucks are 19-0 in true road games, going 13-6-1 against the spread. Here’s the tale of the tape for a game that could be a B1G Championship Game preview.

When Wisconsin has the ball, the Badgers will be going against the 12th ranked team nationally in defensive success rate. It will be the third top-15 team in defensive success rate the Badgers will have faced, after playing 8th ranked LSU and top ranked Michigan. How did Wisconsin do in those games? Alright against LSU. They came out hot, Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbawale combined for 130 rushing yards, and Troy Fumagali had seven big catches. It was a disaster against Michigan. The Badgers averaged just 11.2 yards per possession, gained 2.91 yards per play, and ended the 5600e6a9b7bb00b90c52e2c9c7319af9game with less than 100 yards rushing and passing. QB Alex Hornibrook was under siege all day by the Wolverines, but if there was a silver lining to his game, it’s that he never coughed up a killer a turnover, helping the Badgers to stay with Michigan the whole game. He’ll need to at least find a way to repeat that against a Buckeye defense that’s already forced 13 turnovers this year. If the Badgers can somehow squeak out enough offense and resemble that LSU box score, they’ll have a chance to win the game.

The real show will be when the Buckeyes offense collides with the Badgers defense. Ohio State is ranked second nationally in offensive success rate while the Badgers are ranked 22nd or better in all five defensive success rate categories. A week ago, OSU was held in check by a decent Indiana defense. This will be a major step up. Indiana was able to get OSU off the field enough to stay in the game and limited them to just 6-of-17 on 3rd down. A week ago against Indiana’s improved pass defense, JT Barrett had his most inaccurate day in over two years and averaged almost four yards less per pass than his season average. The Badgers pass defense is better than Indiana’s. Their run defense will prove a lot sturdier. And they bring a lot more pressure with a deep set of athletic, disruptive linebackers.  That group will be key in keeping Barrett’s running game contained, something the Hoosiers were unable to do.

I believe in Wisconsin’s defense. It’s been one of the stories of the season. I like them in this matchup against Barrett. At least enough to cover this spread.

bettingNational Games: Kansas State +14 over Oklahoma: Never shy betting against the Sooners these days, especially against a Wildcat team that’s 27-17 ATS as an underdog during Bill Snyder’s second tenure at the school, including covers and outright wins their last two trips to Norman……..Arkansas +7.5 over Ole Miss: Arkansas has been a great underdog play for a few seasons now, but some of the shine is off them after failing to grab the money the last two times out in this role against Texas A/M and Alabama. But those are top-10 teams. Earlier in the year, they covered and won outright as a dog against a good, but incomplete TCU team. Maybe that’s just their speed this year. We trust them in this spot against the Rebels…….Tulane +11 over Memphis (Friday): All of the Green Wave’s FBS games this year have been close, but more importantly do we have a double digit dog with the better defense? Tulane is allowing a half yard less per play than the Tigers and ranked 27 spots better than them in defensive success rate. I think so and I really like those. Texas Tech –1 over West Virginia: We’ll take the Tech offense to pull one out at home in a matchup between the B12’s best third down conversion team against it’s worst defense on that down…..Eastern Michigan +7.5 over Ohio. Not a typo. We’re on the Eagles. They’ve been hot lately and, frankly, there isn’t any proof that Ohio is better than them this year. Ohio lost to Texas State, the team currently ranked last in the S&P rankings. Sounds like a great team to bet against as touchdown chalk. Eastern is flirting with a bowl game. Whoever their coach is will look great in Purdue Black and Gold next fall……Tennessee +12 over Alabama: We hate betting against Bama, but we’ve always liked Butch Jones as an underdog. Lesser Vol teams have covered the number the last two years against the Tide…..UCF –3 over Temple: Did you know Michigan’s non conference foes are 14-2 ATS this year. And if you have a good memory, you know those two no covers came against the Wolverines. Not fans of CU –12.5 vs. Arizona St or Hawaii –9 vs. UNLV, but we like the Knights as short home chalk against a Temple that isn’t nearly as good as last year’s version…..UNC +7 over Miami: The Heels stunk up the joint for us a week ago, but we’re going to give them another show this week. The weather last week ensured their offense was going nowhere. With a dryer track, we’ll get a proper shootout this week and a much better showing out of Carolina against a Canes team that’s covered the spread twice in their last nine showings as chalk against an FBS team.

(Season Record: 18-21-1; B1G Games 9-7-1)

Comments

Ecky Pting

October 14th, 2016 at 5:13 PM ^

Nice collection of old program art. Here's another classic, because I don't think either team would dare make it the Homecoming game these days:

Interesting to see the predominant use of Michigan colors on an OSU program.

BLHoke

October 17th, 2016 at 3:21 AM ^

I know this was posted prior to the OSU/Wisconsin showdown this past Saturday... But given the way the season has unfolded with UofM all but assured of entering The Game unbeaten... I'm more than a little surprised that The Buckeyes point spread vs The Wolverines has actually INCREASED by a full 3 points. If anything, the standard -3 or 3.5 that usually occurs for home teams in "pick em" situations seems more appropriate.

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Nothsa

October 17th, 2016 at 2:04 PM ^

Michigan was expected to be an improved team this year. Ohio State was ending nearly an entire class to the NFL. Consequently, the national betting scene was more uncertain about Ohio State's prospects in the summer than about Michigan's.

Evidently OSU reloaded just fine. Hence the line sliding down, even with Michigan having a good season. Other than the magnitude of the beatdowns, the Wolverines were expected to be undefeated at this point.