Forget the College Football Playoff for a moment, Michigan State football fans. (I know, that’s a tough ask right this second.)
Before the start of the college football betting season, prognosticators and pom-pon wavers alike were wondering whether Michigan State would even find its way to five wins. Now, the remarkable 8-0 Spartans are five wins away from a return to NCAA football’s final four.
Michigan State was revealed as the No. 3 team in the initial CFP rankings set released Tuesday night. The top four ranked teams in the final poll Dec. 5 will advance to the national semifinals, a round the Spartans last reached in 2015.
Michigan State at Purdue: NCAA Football Odds
The road to Indianapolis and a College Football Playoff berth
Michigan State’s current ranking guarantees nothing, of course, in either direction. The current high comes after a rousing 37-33 comeback victory over in-state rival and fellow unbeaten Michigan this past weekend.
The troubles are far from over, however, as the calendar advances into winning time in November. This Saturday’s opponent, Purdue, already has a top-two win this season when the Boilermakers (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten Conference) knocked off previously unbeaten Iowa (now 6-2, 3-2) three weeks ago.
Next would be a home game against limping but dangerous Maryland (5-3, 2-3) before back-to-back showdowns against Ohio State (7-1, 5-0) and Penn State (5-3, 2-3) to end the regular season.
Win out (an unlikely but certainly not impossible task), and Mel Tucker’s Spartans will certainly be inside the top four heading into the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 4 in Indianapolis against either Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2) or Minnesota (6-2, 4-1), where the Spartans would then be a considerable favorite against the Big Ten West winner.
“Even when we first got here, he got us in a meeting and asked us things about what helps us academics-wise and sportswise. And on the field, I think that helped us bond together,” Heisman Trophy candidate Kenneth Walker III said in an ESPN interview Tuesday night.
Michigan sportsbooks still not bullish on Spartans’ chances
Even getting to Indy will prove to be the biggest problem, as far as most Michigan sportsbooks are concerned. The Buckeyes, for one, are No. 5 in the CFP poll, and will post the biggest threat to the Spartans in the Big Ten East.
Michigan State’s Big Ten odds at those places: +600, +1000 and +900, respectively.
The national championship odds picture is bleaker still, largely because of the presence of SEC powers Georgia and Alabama into the fold.
The top-ranked Bulldogs are the consensus favorite: +110 at BetRivers, -110 at FanDuel, +110 at DraftKings and even-money +100 at FoxBet Sportsbook.
The Spartans: +5000, +8000, +4000 and +5000 in the order listed directly above.
All is not mathematically lost for the Michigan Wolverines, despite the heartbreaking defeat. If Jim Harbaugh’s side wins out and sees a pair of Michigan State losses (say, to Ohio State and Penn State), the Wolverines can still reach Indianapolis and have an outside shot at the College Football Playoff, despite being currently ranked at No. 7.
Just for kicks, the requisite odds for Michigan at DraftKings: +1000 for a Big Ten crown and +6000 for the whole enchilada.