Redbox Bowl Betting Preview: Can Defense Keep Michigan State in the Game vs. Oregon?

Despite fielding one of the country's most dominant defenses this season, Michigan State has floundered due to an offense that can barely move the ball. That will cost the Spartans against Oregon in the Redbox Bowl.
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Michigan State Spartans vs. Oregon Ducks (-3)

Mon., December 31, 3:00 p.m. ET

Three things to know before betting on Michigan State-Oregon:

1. Michigan State played its worst football at the end of the year, which suggests it won't be at its peak in the Redbox Bowl. The Spartans come into their bowl game on an 0-3 run against the spread and 4-8 ATS overall this season. MSU fell 26-6 to Ohio State as a three-point underdog and lost 9-6 to Nebraska. But the most embarassing game was the regular season finale, where the Spartans only beat Rutgers 14-10 at home despite being favored by 24.

The problem—as it has been all year—is Michigan State's offense. At 7-5 straight up, MSU enters bowl season 122nd nationally in scoring offense (19.8 PPG) and 125th in yards gained per play (4.7). Over the last 10 seasons, teams with winning percentages between .510 and .600 that have gone under the total by 35 combined points in their previous three games are 6-26 against spreads between +3 and -3.

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2. Oregon comes into this one having won two straight and three of its last four straight up. The Ducks wrapped up the regular season with a 55-15 road win and cover against rival Oregon State. Over the past five seasons, teams with a winning percentage between .600 and .800 coming off a double-digit road win are 26-8 ATS when playing a team with a winning record.

Unlike Michigan State, the Ducks' offense is soaring. Oregon scored 37.2 points per game this season, 17th most in FBS. Leading the charge was top NFL prospect Justin Herbert. The quarterback finished third in the Pac-12 in yards per game (248.8) and touchdown passes (28), all while throwing only eight interceptions. Herbert has plenty of weapons, including freshman running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, who combined for over 1,600 rushing yards this year, and receiver Dillon Mitchell, who had at least 100 yards receiving in three of Oregon's final four games.

3. Oregon will face an excellent Michigan State defense that finished 13th in the nation in yards per play (4.62) despite getting few time-sucking drives from its offense. But Oregon has already shown it can move the ball against an elite defensive unit. In a 30-27 win over Washington as a 3.5-point underdog in October, Herbert played steady and didn't turn the ball over against a top-flight D. Verdell and Dye combined for 178 yards on the ground, and Mitchell caught eight balls for 119 yards and a score. With Herbert getting the ball to his playmakers and the Michigan State offense breaking down, the Ducks should be able to easily win by a touchdown.

Pick: Oregon -3

Confidence Level: Very High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)