Penn State vs. Michigan State: Nittany Lions Look to Remain Unbeaten

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Penn State and Michigan State are two teams heading in opposite directions. The Nittany Lions are coming off a 28-21whiteout” victory over Michigan, where despite not covering the 9.5-point spread, they showed flashes of brilliance on both sides of the ball.

Meanwhile, Sparty had a bye week to lick their wounds after being outclassed by the Big 10 elite earlier this month.  MSU lost by a combined 62 points in back-to-back weeks against Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Penn State (7-0, 4-0 Big 10) continues to be paced by quarterback Sean Clifford.  The junior has scored 14 touchdowns (10 passing, 4 rushing) over his last four games as the Nittany Lions own the nation’s 7th best scoring margin at +30.0 points per game.  Defensively, PSU has been relentless at applying pressure, sacking the quarterback 28 times this season, fourth-best among FBS teams.

Michigan State (4-3, 2-2 Big 10) has struggled to move the ball this season.  Quarterback Brian Lewerke threw for just 53 yards with an interception before getting benched in the fourth quarter of the 38-0 loss to Wisconsin two weeks ago.  Senior wide receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. has been the lone bright spot on offense, leading the Big 10 with 683 receiving yards.

Here’s a gambling breakdown for the Saturday afternoon matchup between Penn State and Michigan State.


Game Details:  #6 Penn State at Michigan State

Date: Saturday, October 26
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location:  Spartan Stadium (East Lansing, Michigan)
TV: ABC
Spread: Penn State -5.5
Total: 43.5
*All odds are courtesy of Covers


Betting Trends

  • Penn State is 4-3 ATS this season
  • Michigan State is 2-5 ATS this season
  • Under is 4-3 in Penn State games this season
  • Under is 4-3 in Michigan State games this season
  • Penn State is 5-0 this season following ATS loss
  • Michigan State is 1-5 in last 6 home games
  • Michigan State is 5-1 ATS in last 6 meetings

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How Penn State  -5.5 Can Cover

Continue to generate big plays on offense. KJ Hamler leads the Big 10 in receiving touchdowns this season with seven, his big-play ability can stretch the Spartan defense and open up things on the ground for Noah Cain and company.

Penn State must also overcome the ghosts of Spartan Stadium.  The Nittany Lions have lost two straight in East Lansing and five of six games overall.  For the third straight time, Penn State will carry a top-10 ranking into the game.


How Michigan State +5.5  Can Cover

Figure out how to move the ball consistently, especially on the ground.  Sparty is 110th the FBS with just 117.1 rushing yards per game and mustered just 30 in the blowout loss against Wisconsin.

Channel the Sparty magic.  Michigan State has had Penn State’s number of late, which might be the only edge the Spartans have over the Nittany Lions on Saturday.  Penn State is clearly the better team, but as we saw last week between Illinois and Wisconsin, strange things can happen on the road in the Big 10.


Prediction

Michigan State’s woeful performance against Wisconsin looks a lot worse now after the Badgers were outplayed by a bad Illinois team last week.  Penn State has already overcome their Iowa demons earlier this season and I think they have enough moxie to overcome whatever Mark Dantoni and the Spartans defense has in store for them.  I think the spread is a tad high as it is tough to back PSU as a road favorite, but the total feels like a strong under, especially in the first half, which is my official play.

Penn State 17, Michigan State 12 (Official play: Under 21.5 1st half)


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Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith