One of the most interesting matchups of the early season is Michigan State at Washington. This is just the second regular-season meeting between the two teams (1969-1970) with the most recent being in the Hawaii Bowl when the Spartans were headed by Nick Saban. Buckle up, there’s a lot to unpack in this game, particularly with the line movement. Below, we’ll look at Michigan State at Washington odds and game analysis.
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Michigan State at Washington Odds
College Football Week 3 odds for every game
Michigan State at Washington Odds Movement
This line opened with Michigan State a 1.5-point underdog and that line quickly ballooned to +3.5. The movement is puzzling to many, as Michigan State is ranked 11th in the AP poll and holds a 6.4-point road advantage in an SP+, FPI, FEI aggregate ranking. But as we’ve seen many times over, odd line movement is often best played steered into.
Since this number hovers around a key betting figure in football (three points), any half-point movement is major. 17% of college football games push at three, meaning timing will be important for bettors. Those who want to back Michigan State, grabbing a +3.5 is your best option. Those still looking to back Washington likely missed their best opportunity, but they should search for -3 (best available number: ).
What’s The Deal With This Line Movement?
As cheap as a “someone must know something” is, it’s likely behind the movement in this line. Michigan State is 11th in FPI (15.1) vs. Washington’s 25th (9.6) and 22nd in FEI (0.48) vs. Washington’s 36th (0.29); surface-level, Michigan State is 11th in the AP Top 25 while Washington received no votes.
And yet, Washington’s moved two full points through a key betting figure. Despite the rapid line changing, there hasn’t been any buyback worth noting since no lines have moved back in the other direction.
The Spartans haven’t faced a tough team yet, with wins over Western Michigan and Akron. Perhaps a contributing factor, they’re 99th in offensive EPA per play through those two cheap games (-0.166). They’re 75th in net EPA per game on the season, too (1.19). Against the 95th- and 128th-ranked teams in the country, that’s a problem.
QB Payton Thorne has been far from inspiring, recording four TDs and three picks through two games. This could be a result of the Spartan coaching staff not wanting to show their cards against low-level opponents– Michigan State is 98th in pass play rate (42.3%) and 78th in plays run (68.5). Against the 121st-ranked rush EPA defense in Washington, this run-pass split may continue.
A Familiar Foe
Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. is no stranger to Michigan State– he’s started two games against them while at Indiana. In those two games, one under Kalen DeBoer as his OC, Penix threw for 606 yards and five touchdowns (80 attempts!). He is 1-1 against the Spartans.
Against overmatched opponents in Kent State and Portland State (FCS), Penix has 682 passing yards and six TDs so far this season on 66 attempts. He’s led Washington to the ninth-best passing EPA per play (0.478), albeit with a flawed sample size.
Last season, Michigan State fielded one of the worst passing defenses and a secondary that was consistently burned. There’s no conclusions to be drawn from 2022 given their opposition, but all four starters are back.
Be sure to keep an eye on the status of Michigan State’s Jayden Reed, who is questionable for this game. He’s a favorite target for Payton Thorne and his absence will be an issue for Sparty.
Michigan State at Washington Forecast
I was downright burned last week when I steered against odd line movement in the Virginia-Illinois game. Still feeling the sting of that burn, I’m hesitant to steer against this line, as well. Watching the line move as steeply and quickly as it did, it’s clear there’s lots of respected action coming in on this game. Pros only cash 56% of the time, so is this game part of the 44%?
I’m personally not finding out.
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