The Hawaii game is the largest point spread in Michigan football history
According to oddsmakers, Michigan’s game against Hawaii on Saturday will be a setback. Neither in 1986, when the teams first met, nor in 1959, when Hawaii became a state.
No, those who dreamed up the scoring for Saturday’s matchup believe it will resemble one of Michigan’s early 20th-century games.
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The Wolverines are favored with a whopping 51.5 points. MLive could not find an example of greater point distribution in Michigan football history. A database going back to 1995 lists no more than the 45.5 points that favored Michigan against Massachusetts in 2012. (Michigan won that game 63-13.)
For anyone to benefit from a Michigan bet on Saturday, the Wolverines would have to win by at least 52 points. The total (or over/under) for the game is set at 65.5, meaning the expected score is approximately 59 Michigan, Hawaii 7.
At the start of the season, Michigan was a top 10 team and Hawaii was in rebuilding mode with a new coach. The past few weeks have only reinforced those beliefs. Michigan is 1-0 after beating Colorado State 51-7 on Saturday. (The Wolverines were 30.5-point favorites in that game.) Hawaii lost its opener to Vanderbilt 63-10 and fell to Western Kentucky 49-17 on Saturday. Both games were played at home against teams considered significantly inferior to Michigan.
Michigan’s 2016 matchup against Hawaii resulted in a wide spread (36.6 points) and an even bigger lead: Michigan won 63-3.
Since 1995, the Wolverines have been either undefeated or 24-1 when favored by at least 30 points, depending on whether you acknowledge the unofficial 33-point spread against Appalachian State in 2007 (Michigan fans are certainly welcome to dismiss that one). However, Michigan is only 11-14 against the spread in such games.
A 50 point spread is uncommon but not unprecedented in big college football. Alabama has been an eight-team favorite with 50+ points (2-6 against the spread) for the past 10 years. Ohio State has been twice.
While the idea of scoring points had not yet been invented, Michigan’s first teams under Fielding Yost regularly beat opponents by astronomical distances. In 1901, his first year as head coach, the Wolverines went 11-0, not conceding a single point. From 1901 to 1904, Michigan won 20 games by at least 50, including four by three figures.
These were Michigan’s legendary “point-a-minute” teams. To cover Saturday’s spread, Michigan will need a similar performance.
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