The Purdue Boilermakers (5-3, 3-2 in Big Ten) try to beat their second undefeated conference foe this season when they host the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans (8-0, 5-0) Saturday. The kickoff at Ross-Ade Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, and the game airs on ABC.
Michigan State rallied back from an early double-digit deficit to upset its in-state rival, the Michigan Wolverines, 37-33 as 4-point road underdogs last weekend. Spartan junior RB Kenneth Walker III is now a Heisman Trophy contender after steamrolling the Wolverines for 197 rushing yards on 23 carries and five rushing TDs. According to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin, MSU is 6-0-2 against the spread (ATS) and 4-4 Over/Under (O/U) with the 47th-toughest schedule.
Purdue has alternated between winning and losing over the past seven games, with the latest being a 28-23 road win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers as 7.5-point underdogs. The Boilermakers also ended the then-No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes’ undefeated season with a 24-7 victory as 11-point road underdogs on Oct. 16. Purdue is 4-4 ATS and 1-7 O/U with the 10th-toughest schedule (Sagarin).
These two teams met last in 2018, and Michigan State won 23-13 as 2.5-point home underdogs, with the Under cashing on the 49.5-point total.
- Opening Line: Michigan State -3
- Current Line: Michigan State -3
- Total (Over/Under): 54
Both sides of the market are backing Michigan State in this spot. For instance, nearly 60% of the cash and 85% of the action at the time of publishing is on Michigan State, according to Pregame.com. However, the line hasn’t moved off the opener. The market also prefers the Over as nearly two-thirds of the handle is on the Under. As a result, oddsmakers have reacted by lowering the total from a 57.5-point opener at Circa Sports (market-making sportsbook).
Head coach Jeff Brohm took the Purdue head coaching gig in 2017. Since then, the Boilermakers are a Big Ten-best 9-3 ATS with a plus-9.9-point ATS margin, 20-18 ATS in conference play, and 7-4 ATS vs. ranked teams with a plus-6.7-point ATS margin.
Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker’s tenure, began last season. The Spartans are 2-0 ATS as a road favorite and 6-6 ATS vs. Big Ten teams over that span.
This would be a situational trap game for Michigan State even if Purdue weren’t a quality opponent. The Spartans are coming off their program’s biggest victory in years and travel to play a Boilermakers team that’s already stunned a Big Ten team. Furthermore, this is a better spot for Purdue, who has a winning ATS record vs. Big Ten teams and ranked opponents in the Brohm era.
Another reason why I like the Boilermakers to keep this game within a field goal margin is their defense is low-key underrated. the Spartans will test Purdue’s rush defense against one of the best running backs in the nation (Walker). Well, Purdue’s defense ranks 25th in rushing predicted points added (PPA) and 21st in rushing success rate.
On top of that, Purdue’s pass defense is one of the Big Ten’s best, and the Boilermakers can stack the box vs. Walker. Purdue’s defense has the eighth-best passer efficiency rating in the country and the eighth-best opponent completion percentage.
Plus, Michigan State could be without one of its best wideouts as WR Jalen Nailor is dealing with a hand injury. Moreover, Purdue ranks 19th in defensive 3rd-down conversion rate, and Michigan State’s offense is 102nd in 3rd-down conversion rate. So the Boilermakers can steal this game outright if they force the Spartans into a bunch of 3rd-and-longs.
Finally, the “line freeze” is suspicious as well. You’d think all the pro-Michigan State money in the market would cause sportsbooks to make the Spartans’ spread pricier. But, it appears that oddsmakers have pegged this as a letdown spot for Michigan State too. Typically, it’s profitable for sports betting to fade into a lopsided market. So, let’s get on the same side as the House and grab the Boilermakers plus the points.
Pick: PURDUE +3
Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our How To Bet and Sports Betting Strategy and Advice pages are for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including How to Choose a Sportsbook — or head to more advanced strategy — like Which Sports Are Most Profitable to Bet? — to learn more.