Is it time to sell high on Michigan?

October 12, 2011 - 12:30 PM

If Michigan were a stock, and the better its ranking the higher the price, there would be a lot of traders wondering if now is the time to sell high on the Wolverines.

No. 11 Michigan is 6-0, but the Wolverines started fast and faded the past two seasons under coach Rich Rodriguez. An improved defense under new coach Brady Hoke makes the Wolverines look better built for the long run this year.

Still, halfway through the season, there's much to learn about Michigan.

Its most impressive victory was that wild game against Notre Dame, and before last week's 42-24 win at Northwestern, Michigan had not played a road game.

The Wolverines are on the road again Saturday, facing No. 23 Michigan State and trying to snap a three-game losing streak in a rivalry that they are not used to losing.

"Obviously, the guys know what the history has been," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.

Sparty hasn't beaten 'big brother' Michigan four straight years since 1959-62. And Michigan is 67-31-5 in the series.

"I believe in making (the Michigan rivalry) important," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday. "And, doing certain things to try and put an asterisk behind that game."

We haven't heard much from the Spartans this season. They were dominated 31-13 by Notre Dame last month and their best win was 10-7 slog at Ohio State. So we'll find out a lot about them, too.

Michigan State's defense is the toughest Denard Robinson and the Wolverines have faced. The Spartans rank among the best in the Big Ten and the nation in yards and points allowed. They haven't gotten a running game going yet, but senior quarterback Kirk Cousins should test a Michigan defense that is no doubt better than last season and is just as assuredly still vulnerable to a good offense.

A victory at Michigan State could send Michigan's price, er, ranking into the top 10 with a week off and a home game against Purdue to close October.

That's when holding on to Michigan would get really risky. November is by far the Wolverines' toughest month with road games at Iowa and Illinois followed by home games against Nebraska and Ohio State.

The picks:

SATURDAY

No. 1 LSU (minus 16) at Tennessee

For second straight week, Tigers get opponent with injured QB ... LSU 28-10.

No. 2 Alabama (minus 25½) at Mississippi

Tide has won seven straight against Rebels ... ALABAMA 33-10.

BEST BET

No. 3 Oklahoma (minus 34½) at Kansas

Only kindness of Bob Stoops' heart can prevent OU from scoring 80 ... OKLAHOMA 62-10.

Indiana (plus 40) at No. 4 Wisconsin

Badgers put 83 on Hoosiers last season ... WISCONSIN 90-14.

No. 5 Boise State (minus 32) at Colorado State

Kellen Moore has 18 straight games of at least two TD passes ... BOISE STATE 42-7.

No. 6 Oklahoma State (minus 7½) at No. 22 Texas

Longhorns are 13-0 under Mack Brown in game after Red River Rivalry ... OKLAHOMA ST. 41-35.

No. 7 Stanford (minus 21) at Washington State

Cougars are much improved, but not THAT much ... STANFORD 45-17.

No. 8 Clemson (minus 7½) at Maryland

QB Tajh Boyd (hip) has practiced, all is well with the Tigers ... CLEMSON 28-17.

No. 18 Arizona State (plus 16) at No. 9 Oregon

Ducks have won six straight against Sun Devils ... OREGON 38-31.

No. 11 Michigan (plus 3) at No. 23 Michigan State

Sell ... MICHIGAN STATE 27-21.

UPSET SPECIAL

No. 12 Georgia Tech (minus 7½) at Virginia

Cavaliers rank third in ACC in total offense and defense ... VIRGINIA 31-28.

No. 15 South Carolina (minus 3½) at Mississippi State

Gamecocks can't blame Stephen Garcia anymore ... MISSISSIPPI STATE 28-24.

Ohio State (plus 4) at No. 16 Illinois

Illini looking for first 7-0 start since 1951 ... ILLINOIS 24-18.

No. 17 Kansas State (plus 3) at Texas Tech

Wildcats have lost three straight in Lubbock ... TEXAS TECH 35-24.

No. 19 Virginia Tech (minus 7) at Wake Forest

Wake coach Jim Grobe working on another ACC coach of year award ... VIRGINIA TECH 28-23.

No. 20 Baylor (plus 9) at No. 21 Texas A&M

Baylor won't waive right to sue if Aggies ruin Robert Griffin III's Heisman hopes ... TEXAS A&M 48-38.

Florida (minus 2) at No. 24 Auburn

Tigers sticking with their QB; Gators not sure who theirs will be ... FLORIDA 27-24.

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Last week's record: 16-4 (straight); 15-5 (vs. spread).

Season record: 106-17 (straight); 59-40-1 (vs. spread).

Best bets: 5-1.

Upset specials (vs. spread): 3-3.

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Ralph D. Russo can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP