Through two games, it appears that Michigan State is a stronger NCAA football team than most imagined. But just how strong? We may get a pretty clear indication this week, as MSU will hit the road to take on No. 24 Miami (Fla.) on Saturday afternoon.
Can Michigan State surprise the oddsmakers for the second time in three weeks? Here’s an early look at a suddenly-serious game week.
How to watch: Michigan State Spartans at Miami Hurricanes
- What: Michigan State (2-0) at Miami (1-1)
- When: Noon ET, Saturday, Sept. 18
- Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
- TV: ABC (Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Katie George)
- Online livestream: ESPN+
- Radio: Michigan State Football Radio Network
- Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 196 (MSU); Sirius Channel 85 (Miami)
Oddsmakers favor Miami at home by significant margin
Even though MSU is on the edge of cracking into the top 25 rankings, the Spartans are still somewhat of a sizable underdog against the Hurricanes.
Most oddsmakers were listing MSU as a 6.5-point road underdog as of early Monday afternoon.
The over/under total was listed at 55 in most books, but DraftKings Sportsbook had it at 54.5.
Real-time live best odds values on both sides are shown below.
MSU comes into the game 2-0 on the season and 1-0-1 against the spread. The over has hit in both Spartans games.
Miami is 1-1 overall and 0-2 against the spread, with the under the play in both games so far.
The Spartans and Hurricanes have met four times in their history, with Miami winning all four. Their last encounter was a 26-20 Miami victory in 1989.
Michigan State rolls to 2-0 start
After dominating Northwestern on the ground in the season opener, MSU took to the air often in Saturday’s 42-14 Spartans win over Youngstown State.
As it did in the season opener, MSU again scored on the first play from scrimmage against Youngstown. Payton Thorne connected with Jayden Reed for a 75-yard TD pass. Reed ended up with four catches for 181 yards.
Thorne would throw three TD passes in the first half, including an 85-yard connection with Reed. He also ran for a 10-yard score. Thorne finished the game with 280 yards on 15-for-21 passing and four touchdowns. Transfer QB Anthony Russo saw a little time and was 5-for-7 passing for 43 yards.
Even with the impressive air display, MSU still continued to run the ball effectively as well.
The Spartans had 272 yards on 38 carries. Jordon Simmons led the way with 121 yards on 16 carries. Kenneth Walker III had a decreased load from his 264-yard effort against Northwestern. Walker had seven carries for 57 yards and a touchdown this past weekend. He remains at +7500 for the Heisman Trophy, according to DraftKings.
Spartans’ defense dominating early
The MSU defense has given up 35 points through two games and is holding opponents to just 352 yards per game thus far.
A lot of the damage against the defense has come late in games, with MSU already leading comfortably.
Michigan State has been able to get a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, racking up a total of six sacks thus far. Xavier Henderson has a team-high two sacks and leads the way with 17 tackles.
The Spartans aren’t creating a lot of turnovers thus far, with Henderson having the lone interception.
Opponents are just 17-for-40 on third downs against the Spartans.
Miami survives Appalachian State
Following a rough 44-13 loss to Alabama in the season opener, Miami got a scare this past weekend in a 25-23 win over Appalachian State.
The Hurricanes got a 43-yard, game-winning field goal from Andres Borregales with 2:04 to play.
Miami’s defense has been susceptible to the big play. The Hurricanes have given up five touchdowns of 25 yards or more. That potential weakness could be an issue for Miami against Michigan State, which has been showing a lot of big-play ability.
Offensively, Miami is averaging just 320.5 yards per game. Those numbers are a bit skewed by playing against Alabama. However, the Hurricanes had just 375 yards against the Mountaineers.
Houston transfer QB D’Eriq King hasn’t impressed, throwing for 379 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He’s also rushed for 89 yards, but has been sacked six times. The senior is coming off an ACL injury at the end of the 2020 season. King is still listed at +4000 to win the Heisman Trophy.
Cam’Ron Harris is the team’s leading rusher, with just 128 yards on 30 carries.