Michigan State vs Oregon -3 (o/u 48)
Perennial Big Ten powerhouse Michigan State entered the 2018 with its usual high hopes. A surprise loss to Arizona St. early in the season set the tone for what was to come. Erratic play on offense undermined great defense, leading the Spartans to a disappointing record of 7-5. The offense was a mess most of the season, unable to consistently move the ball one way or another. The offense ended up ranked 226th in the nation with right at 343 YPG. The QB threw more interceptions than TDs and only one player scored over 4 touchdowns. On defense, the Spartans ruled the universe. The overall defense limited opponents to 311 YPG with support from the #1 rushing defense in the country, which only allowed 81.3 YPG.
Times have also changed. Once viewed as the high-powered offensive wonder of the great Northwest, this year’s Oregon team would seem to be a bit more normal. They still scored 37 PPG on the way to a decent 8-4 record, but that was a little disappointing by the team’s standards. The offense used a balanced attack on the way to its ranking as the 60th best offense in the country. QB Justin Herbert played very well in leading the Ducks with 2,985 passing yards with 28 TDs and only 8 picks. He got good support from a decent running game and used WR Dillon Mitchell (69 rec./1,114 yds/9 TDs) as his favorite target. The defense played well at times but still allowed teams to score far too often.
Prediction: This is a tough game to handicap. Michigan State’s defense is good enough to stop anyone. The offense is erratic at best. The difference in the game may be Oregon’s speed. The feeling here is Michigan State will have trouble staying with Oregon’s WRs, which could result in a few easy scores, more than the offense can offset. Play Oregon -3.