Michi­gan State over Wash­ing­ton State by 6

Playbook Football (Midweek Alert) - - 2-minute Handicap -

At press time, Wash­ing­ton State re­mains a 2-point choice, even though the Cougars will be with­out two of their top three wide re­ceivers. While head coach Mike Leach has a rep­u­ta­tion as a mad sci­en­tist, we don’t think he can take a sud­denly trou­bled pass­ing game, cou­pled with the lack of a run­ning game (71 YPG), and some­how cre­ate a win­ning for­mula against the starv­ing-for-re­demp­tion Spar­tans. Yet an­other ‘mis­sion team’ this sea­son af­ter an in­ex­pli­ca­ble 3-9 SU ef­fort in 2016, Michi­gan State’s last bowl ap­pear­ance saw them white­washed by Alabama in the 2015 Cot­ton Bowl, 38-0. Be­fore that de­ba­cle, HC Mike Dan­to­nio had steered his Spar­tans to four straight wins-and-cov­ers in bowl games, all as an un­der­dog. And af­ter burn­ing 2016’s game film, Dan­to­nio’s de­fense re­claimed its mojo by hold­ing 7 foes to sea­son low – or 2nd low – yardage this year. The Spar­tans and Cougars may show up with iden­ti­cal 9-3 records but MSU’s three de­feats came against Notre Dame, North­west­ern and Ohio State (29-8 SU com­bined), as op­posed to Wazzu’s three lop­sided losses to Cal, Ari­zona and Wash­ing­ton (av­er­age mar­gin of de­feat a head-scratch­ing 27 PPG). Mean­while, not only is Michi­gan State an im­pres­sive 11-1-1 ATS in its last 13 games as a sin­gle-digit dog, the green-and­white also rank No. 2 na­tion­ally in time of posses­sion. In ad­di­tion, fa­vorites in this bowl game are 5-14 ATS, in­clud­ing 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS the last five. The last piece of the puz­zle comes cour­tesy of coach Leach’s 1-6 ATS failure in his last seven bowl games. Too many bad num­bers for a fa­vorite miss­ing too many key com­po­nents.

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