With stadiums only allowing friends and family at Big Ten games this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the home field advantage edge was expected to be nullified a bit with limited crowds.
But any home field advantage has been nonexistent for the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans. Combined, betting on the state’s two most well-known college football programs has not been profitable when they’ve been at home. They are a combined 0-4 against the spread and straight up, and neither has come close to covering.
On Saturday, Michigan was blown out by Wisconsin, 49-11, while MSU was blanked by Indiana 24-0. Both underdogs failed to cover the 7-point spreads, let alone come close to winning for the first time on their home field. Their home records in Michigan fell to 0-2.
A week after MSU went into halftime down 35-0 to Iowa, the Spartans once again put forth another embarrassing first-half performance as Indiana jumped out to a 24-0 lead. In the first half, MSU had three turnovers, a change of possession on downs and a three-and-out. Its longest drive of the half spanned just 31 yards and lasted just four plays and resulted in a punt.
MSU starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi would be pulled in the first half after throwing two interceptions. His final passing line was 3 for 7 passing for 21 yards and two interceptions. His replacement, Payton Thorne, wasn’t much better, completing 10 of 20 passes for 110 yards and an interception.
By every offensive metric, MSU’s offensive performance was embarrassing. Indiana outgunned MSU 433-191 and the Spartans managed just nine first downs compared to 21 for the Hoosiers.
Playing in the primetime ABC spot, the Michigan Wolverines were embarrassed on national television, getting blown out by Wisconsin. The Badgers scored the game’s first 28 points and the game’s outcome was never in doubt.
Michigan’s woes started with quarterback Joe Milton. Milton’s first two passes of the game were intercepted and set the Badgers up with short field position. Both turnovers would lead to Wisconsin touchdowns and a quick 14-0 advantage midway through the opening quarter.
Wisconsin was able to do whatever it wanted on offense, thanks to its rushing attack. The Badgers averaged 6.7 yards per carry and finished with 341 yards rushing, erasing any concerns about how they would be affected after the two-week layoff because of the rising positive COVID-19 cases that struck the program.
During the fourth week of the Big Ten season, home teams were just 1-5 against the spread, with Nebraska (+3) winning outright, 30-23, over Penn State. Purdue, Rutgers, MSU, Michigan and Minnesota all lost and failed to cover the spread.
The week highlighted a trend that’s been happening across the Big Ten thus far, with home teams struggling to cover within the conference. So far this season, teams playing at home are 10-14-1 against the spread as visiting teams have had more success without having to deal with boisterous crowds.