With his crazy-eyed glare, Jim Harbaugh is staring down the biggest game in his five years as Michigan coach. It’s not this week’s game, though, and that could be a problem.
It’s human nature for Harbaugh and the Wolverines to be looking ahead to the regular-season finale against undefeated Ohio State a week from today in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines must first handle their business at Indiana, an upset-minded 7-3 team with the potential to put a scare into Harbaugh.
The Hoosiers have played with a maniacal fervor each week for their pit bull coach, Tom Allen, who has turned around a losing program. Indiana was a two-touchdown underdog last week in a 34-27 loss at Penn State. Peyton Ramsey completed 31 of 41 passes for 371 yards and a touchdown against a tough Nittany Lions defense.
Michigan has failed to cover its game prior to Ohio State three years in a row, including twice against Indiana. The Wolverines were 28-point favorites in a 31-20 victory over the Hoosiers last year and 24-point favorites in a 20-10 victory over IU in 2016.
The rivalry lookahead factor is real and also has applied to the Buckeyes, who failed to cover in each of the past six years the week before facing Michigan. This could be a wilder week than expected in the Big Ten.
I bet Indiana as a 10-point underdog — the number available at the Westgate SuperBook — and here are more plays for Saturday:
152-ARIZONA STATE (plus-14) over Oregon:
Senior quarterback Justin Herbert and the Ducks have won nine straight since opening with a narrow loss to Auburn, so a spot in the College Football Playoff is within reach. The Sun Devils (5-5) are still chasing bowl eligibility after a four-game losing streak. These teams have split the past two meetings with each decided by two points. Oregon should be on upset alert. Arizona State coach Herm Edwards is 8-5 ATS with six outright wins as an underdog.
165-Ucla (plus-14) over USC:
Most books have lowered this line to 13½ but Caesars and Golden Nugget still offer 14. After an embarrassing 32-point home loss to Oregon on Nov. 2, the Trojans stopped horsing around and starting playing for troubled coach Clay Helton. USC has consecutive wins and covers against Arizona State and California. Chip Kelly’s 34-27 victory over Helton last year at the Rose Bowl was the highlight of Kelly’s 3-9 debut season for the Bruins. UCLA has won three of its past four games and is peaking late, similar to last year. The Bruins’ defense is a disaster, but their offense has improved, so expect a shootout with around 70 total points.
215-San Diego State (plus-3) over HAWAII:
Aztecs coach Rocky Long is 4-1 ATS on the road this season and 7-3 ATS in his past 10 as a ‘dog. San Diego State, the superior defensive team in this matchup, won and covered its past three in Honolulu. Nick Rolovich is 3-12-1 ATS as a favorite in four years as Hawaii coach.
Due to time constraints, we move ahead to further action. Other plays:
117-Ball State (-3) over Kent State
123-Kansas State (plus-2.5) over Texas Tech
143-Illinois (plus-15.5) over Iowa
163-Nevada (plus-14) over Fresno State
177-Texas (plus-5.5) over Baylor
211-Penn State (plus-19) over Ohio State
Last week: 6-5 against the spread