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Bettors like Ohio State over Michigan, by a lot, inside and outside our state

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Inside and outside the state of Michigan, the big money is on Ohio State for Saturday's highly anticipated showdown in Ann Arbor.

According to Caesars Sportsbook, 87% of its tickets and 94% of the total dollars are being wagered on the Buckeyes, who are touchdown favorites against the Wolverines. Even inside the state of Michigan, 86% of Caesars' tickets and 95% of the money is on Ohio State.

Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba celebrates his touchdown reception with quarterback C.J. Stroud in the second quarter.

A big reason why: Ohio State's shellacking of Michigan State, then a top-10 team, last week, which propelled the Buckeyes up the national rankings, to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Michigan is No. 5.

"The combination of not being that big of a favorite and how they performed last week against Michigan State is why I think Ohio State has been so popular,” said Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading at Caesars Sportsbook.

“You rarely get a chance to bet Ohio State at this low of a number, especially in recent years. Michigan also hasn’t beaten them in a long time, and people are aware of that fact.”

The Wolverines are 0-5 against the spread against the Buckeyes in Jim Harbaugh's five years as Michigan's head coach. Against the spread against top-10 teams, Michigan is 4-11 under Harbaugh.

More: Detroit News scouting report: Michigan football vs. Ohio State

This season, Michigan is 9-2 against the spread, which is tied for tops in the Football Bowl Subdivision with Oklahoma State. The two games Michigan (10-1) didn't cover: the 37-33 loss to Michigan State, when it was a four-point favorite, and a 20-13 win over Rutgers, when it was favored by 20.5 points.

Ohio State (10-1) had been favored by at least 14 points in each of its first 11 games, going 6-4-1 against the spread.

This game is expected to be the most-bet-on game in college football this season, in terms of total dollars.

“Handle is solid right now,” said Craig Mucklow, Caesars Sportsbook vice president of trading. “It will eclipse the biggest college handle this season for sure come kickoff and will certainly handle more than a number of NFL games this Sunday.”

More: Wojo: Jim Harbaugh revived Wolverines, now driven to reinvigorate Buckeye rivalry

"The Game," which last was played in 2019 (2020 was canceled because of COVID-19 issues at Michigan), also is drawing huge bucks from a ticket perspective. With an average ticket price eclipsing $200, this is the priciest game of the weekend and one of the tops all season, according to a number of ticket-broker outlets. According to TickPick's sales, the average price is $337, most on record for "The Game." The company's records go back to 2011.

The Big Ten East championship and a probable spot in the CFP is at stake when the two teams meet at noon Saturday. Recognizing the stakes, ESPN's "College GameDay" and Fox's "Big Noon Kickoff" will be on Michigan's campus for their respective pregame shows.

Ohio State has won eight straight in the rivalry and 15 of 16, and hasn't lost a Big Ten game since 2018.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984