Penn State vs Michigan Odds, Picks and Predictions: Big Ten Beasts Start Slow in Ann Arbor

Two of the Big Ten's best are putting their undefeated records on the line when PSU and Michigan meet in Ann Arbor this weekend. We're expecting Blake Corum and the Wolverines to keep the ball on the ground early — keeping things Under the first-half total

Andrew Caley - Senior Betting Analyst at
Andrew Caley • Senior Betting Analyst
Oct 15, 2022 • 07:47 ET • 4 min read

We’re treated to a big matchup in the Big Ten this weekend when undefeated Penn State heads to the Big House to take on undefeated Michigan. Is that enough big college football for you? 

The Nittany Lions enter this matchup at 5-0 thanks to a newly balanced offense and a stout rush defense, but it can be argued this will be the first real test Penn State has faced this season.

Meanwhile, after coming flying out of the gates, the Wolverines haven’t looked as dominant over their last three games, but at less than a touchdown at home, is Michigan getting enough respect in this pivotal Big Ten battle?

I break it all down and give you my best bet in my college football picks and predictions for Penn State vs. Michigan.

Penn State vs Michigan best odds

Penn State vs Michigan picks and predictions

Michigan spent its first three games of the season steamrolling lesser opponents, putting up at least 51 points against Colorado State, Hawaii, and UConn. 

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy has been super-efficient, completing 78.3% of his passes with nine touchdowns compared to just one interception, but it’s Blake Corum and the ground game Michigan has leaned on in Big Ten play.

Corum has been a load to bring down on the ground. He has carried the ball at least 25 times in each of the last three games, totaling 500 yards over that stretch.

Even though Penn State ranks seventh in the country in rushing yards allowed per game, those numbers may be a bit skewed by the fact they haven’t really faced a team with a talented back like Corum, and one as dedicated to rushing as Michigan. So, don’t be surprised if the Wolverines test that run defense early on.

That strategy could provide us with some value in this matchup. With that dedication to rushing the football, Michigan is averaging just 13.3 points per game in the first half vs. Big Ten opponents.

On the other side, Penn State QB Sean Clifford looks happy to finally have some help and it starts with improved offensive line play. Not only is the O-line keeping Clifford upright longer, but it's also creating holes for a now solid backfield duo in Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen. 

However, hey haven’t faced anything the likes of the Michigan defense, which ranks second in the country in opponent yards per play. That said, Penn State knows it will need to establish the rush if they want to be competitive. I think all this points to a tightly-played and low-scoring first half. 

My best bet: First-half Under 26.5 (-110 at FanDuel)

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Penn State vs Michigan spread analysis

This line has bounced back and forth between Michigan -7 and -6.5 since opening, but at either number, I’m not sure this spread is giving the Wolverines enough respect in this matchup.

Yes, Michigan has not been as dominant since the start of Big Ten play, but this line is not properly reflecting how well the Wolverines have played overall and how talented they are.

The defense has been a force all season, and the offense  while still finding its footing has still been impressive. Michigan’s latest game against Indiana provides a great example. 

The Wolverines did not play a clean game by any means against the Hoosiers. In fact, they were penalized 10 times and turned the ball over once. They still won 31-10. 

Penn State provides an interesting challenge, but the team’s only notable win came in its opener at Purdue. And while the Nittany Lions’ rushing defense should hold up for a while, expect McCarthy to take his shots against a unit that ranks 100th in passing yards allowed per game.

As I said, I expect this to be close early, but McCarthy should make some plays with his arm in the second half and lead Michigan to another victory. And being at home gives them the added edge to cover this modest chalk. The Wolverines look like a solid play.

Penn State vs Michigan Over/Under analysis

This total hit the board at 51.5 and reached as high as 53 before Under money brought the number back towards the opener. That leads me to believe bettors aren’t quite sure how to feel about this total.

Obviously, I like this game to be close in the first half thanks in part to what could be a bit of a feeling-out process. But I am a little wearier of the full game total because the talented players on both offenses could open things up in the second half.

McCarthy definitely has a chance to attack a suspect Penn State pass defense. While the balance of the Penn State offense should open things up for the Nittany Lions a little bit. I’ll stick to my first half-total and stay away from the full game.

Penn State vs Michigan betting trend to know

The Under is 6-2 in Penn State's last eight Big Ten games and 6-1 in Michigan's last seven overall. Find more NCAA betting trends for Penn State vs. Michigan.

Penn State vs Michigan game info

Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Date: Saturday, October 15, 2022
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. ET

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