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Their game is over, but the arguing remains as Michigan State’s rivalry with Michigan has now taken to the College Football Playoff rankings.
In this week’s version of college football’s “Hot Tix and Picks,” the popularity of betting on the Wolverines and Spartans – who are both 8-1 – defines the nation’s interest.
While Michigan State rallied to defeat Michigan 37-33 Oct. 30, the debate over who’s better remains a hot topic following the Spartans’ 40-29 upset loss to Purdue and Michigan’s healing 29-7 triumph over visiting Indiana.
In response to those outcomes, Michigan moved to No. 6, two spots away from the College Football Playoff, while Michigan State fell out of playoff position and is No. 7.
In a survey of the nation’s leading mobile sports books, Michigan is a repeat top-five popular ticket among public bettors, while Tipico Sportsbook lists Michigan State as its second-most popular college football wager.
“The public clearly thinks that MSU will look to have a statement game against Maryland this week and keep their playoff hopes alive," Tipico spokesman Sunny Gupta told USA Today Sports+.
That said, here’s a detailed look at the top five “Hot Tix,” with rankings according to the USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll.
No. 8 Michigan -1.5 at No. 23 Penn State
The Wolverines also badly need an impressive victory to remain ahead of the Spartans and to track down anyone in the top five (Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Cincinnati) who may slip this weekend.
Michigan is the most popular bet at both BetMGM and the Las Vegas Superbook. Tipico reports Michigan went from a pick ‘em to -1.5.
Venturing to Happy Valley at this time of year is not for the faint of heart, and that’s revealed by the Nittany Lions’ ranking and in the public’s interest on Penn State.
A first-half moneyline bet on Penn State at +0.5 is Tipico’s fourth-most popular wager, and a straight game bet on Penn State is the third-most popular ticket at Las Vegas Superbook.
No. 9 Michigan State -12.5 vs. Maryland
The 5-4 Terrapins have been blasted by a combined 148-45 in three prior meetings against top-25 Big 10 opponents.
That and the College Football Playoff repercussions are driving interest on the Spartans, who are 4-0 at home and anticipating next week’s game at Ohio State.
Purdue +20.5 at No. 5 Ohio State
Fresh off their impressive 40-29 upset of Michigan State, the Boilermakers (6-3) travel to meet the Buckeyes with a herd of betting support.
“I see the public backing Purdue for two reasons: 1) Purdue has already beaten two top-five teams (Iowa, Michigan State); and 2) Ohio State is coming off a sloppy game against Nebraska last week,” Gupta said.
Reason No. 3 could be the looking-ahead to the Michigan State showdown.
“People react to what they saw last … now, you’re getting three touchdowns,” said Adam Mullen, Caesars Sportsbook’s assistant director of trading. “It’s a juicy spread that can be hard to ignore for some people. Ohio State is usually such a public team. But getting all those points on a good team like Purdue … it’s not a surprise to see them as a public dog this week.”
No. 4 Oklahoma -5.5 at No. 18 Baylor
The 9-0 Sooners, ranked No. 8 in the College Football Playoff survey, have stirred action on both sides.
BetMGM lists the Caleb Williams-quarterbacked Sooners as its third-most popular bet while the Las Vegas Superbook has the Bears (7-2) as its fifth-ranked bet. Baylor is 5-0 at home.
“If (the Sooners) win out, they’ll make it to the Playoff,” Caesars Sportsbook’s Pullen said. “People will see that Baylor lost last week to a TCU team playing with a new coach. I’m sure that has something to do with Oklahoma getting most of the action. When people see good teams laying less than a touchdown, it’s hard to ignore sometimes because it seems so cheap.”
Of course, the Baylor backers who may spy some vulnerability in the Sooners, can additionally sense that the bookmakers are expecting a narrow margin.
No. 21 Coastal Carolina -10 vs. Georgia State
With their lone defeat being to American Athletic Conference rival Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina is perfect (5-0) at home and intent to flex its national ranking.
At Tipico, Coastal Carolina is the hottest ticket.
Now that we know where the public is most hotly invested, let’s look at where the big-money “sharps” are betting while tending to other system plays in this week’s “Hot Picks” portion.
(By the way, we’re 8-2 the past two weeks in “Hot Picks,” and 10-5 overall.)
Hawaii -3 at UNLV
The Rainbow Warriors gave formerly ranked San Diego State a tough time last week, and with four wins, they’re nearing bowl eligibility against the last-place Mountain West Rebels.
At the Las Vegas Superbook, the heavy betting traffic moved Hawaii’s point spead by 1.5 points.
Speaking of big Mountain West bettors, Caesars Sportsbook reports a Nevada individual put $50,000 on Utah State on the moneyline to defeat San Jose State. Tipico Sportsbook lists Utah State as a +4.5-point underdog. The potential return on that wager is $85,000.
San Diego State -3 vs. Nevada
This line has moved 2.5 points in the Aztecs’ favor since it was established at some books.
In this battle for first place in the West division of the Mountain West, Nevada quarterback Carson Strong (25 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 3,197 yards) confronts a San Diego State (8-1) defense that hasn’t given up more than 14 points in four of its past five games.
Western Kentucky -18 at Rice
The increased volume of college games creates openings in affairs like this, where a studious approach and research of teams’ behavior can provoke a betting victory.
Seeking a fourth consecutive victory, the Hilltoppers have been fortified by respectable nonconference showings against Indiana and Michigan State and they’ve smashed the Old Dominion team that netted us some recent winnings.
Oregon State -12.5 vs. Stanford
Perhaps it’s troubling to invest in a team playing on a gloomy afternoon that’s lost three of its past four – including last week’s setback to woeful Colorado.
But each week offers a new opportunity, and let’s be honest: Stanford has crumbled since upsetting Oregon. The line has moved two points in the Beavers’ favor here, with both BetMGM and the Las Vegas Superbook reporting heavy sharps support.
LSU +2.5 vs. Arkansas:
With the Razorbacks slightly favored and sitting just outside the top 25, this strays a bit outside the system — I prefer to wager on unranked favorites versus top-25 teams.
Still, I was comforted to see a report from Caesars Sportsbook that it has accepted a staggering 93% of total dollars wagered on Arkansas in this SEC clash.
The Razorbacks are 0-2 on the road. LSU is 3-1 at home, beating Florida, and fell by a slight 20-14 margin at almighty Alabama last week.
“Even though LSU is having a down year, I don’t think they’re as bad as their record,” Caesars’ Pullen said. “I don’t think they’ve thrown in the towel with (those) efforts. … I personally make LSU a small favorite.”
Lastly, these are not official “picks,” but there has been notable sharp support for these teams, too: Kansas State -6.5 vs. West Virginia and Northwestern +24.5 at No. 24 Wisconsin.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Michigan, Michigan State rivalry marches on in Playoff, betting interest