It has been over a year since we’ve seen how the Nittany Lions have had to play following a loss. Combined with the injuries along the lines last week and what is expected to less than ideal weather on the road, all the ingredients are there for a Spartan victory. This team, however, seems resolute and the leaders have made sure everyone remains focused on their objective. Michigan State is also coming off a frustrating loss last week and their offense hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire thus far. The aforementioned weather may keep this score more manageable, but Penn State should have enough to win comfortably.
Penn State 31. Michigan State 13
James Franklin and the players say they've moved on, but emotion dumps are real and this could be a really tough week a practice for the Nittany Lions trying to get up for the Spartans. Combine that with no Ryan Bates, no Ryan Buchholz and a noon kick on the road and I think this has all the makings of a really, really rough game for Penn State. I think they do enough to get the job done, but it won't be pretty and they'll likely have fans cursing at the television for much of the game.
Penn State 23, Michigan State 21
I want to give Penn State the benefit of the doubt, that they're not going to be thoroughly emotionally drained after that gut punch. But like Clay said, that was about as tough of a loss as conceivable, and Michigan State is no slouch. I'd love a 40+ point victory, but I think it may take the team another week to get their feet back under them. Ugly game, but a win.
Penn State 24, Michigan State 21
Michigan State turned Brian Lewerke loose against Northwestern, and the sophomore quarterback completed 39 of 57 passes for 445 yards. However, all that production only amounted for 17 points in regulation time, so it will be interesting to see if the Spartans can throw on a Penn State defense that just allowed J.T. Barrett to pass the ball wherever he wanted. I'm guessing that Michigan State won't be as successful since it has been held under 20 points (not counting overtime) in four of five Big Ten contests. Saquon Barkley will probably find rough sledding against a tough Spartan run defense, but Trace McSorley has proven resilient this year when forced to take matters into his own hands.
Penn State 31, Michigan State 13
So many unknowns going into this one: How will Penn State respond after losing in one of the most gut-wrenching fashions imaginable? How will the Spartans respond after a hard-fought triple overtime loss to Northwestern? How much will the loss of Ryan Bates affect PSU's offensive line play? How much will the loss of Ryan Buchholz affect PSU's ability to generate pressure on Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke? How nasty will the weather be?
My guess: PSU starts off a tad slow, maybe even allowing their opponent to draw first blood for the first time all year, but Trace and the passing game get rolling and Barkley gets involved in ways not including running the ball, allowing him to continue his impressive streak of consecutive games with a touchdown. The defense, after an embarrassing showing in the second half against OSU, should be playing with a collective chip on their shoulder and will look to return to their shutdown ways. Something's gotta give, and my money is on this veteran Lions squad coming through.
Penn State 31, Michigan State 17
Trust the Process.
Penn State 35, Michigan State 13
First, a confession. As a high school senior, I led my team in personal fouls and fights, both in game and at practice. It wasn't a particularly close contest, either. In fact, it was bad enough that my head coach stopped by the house after church to tell my parents that he'd heard whispers I was on steroids. Roid rage certainly explained my antics. The accusation was laughable, of course. I was merely angry that I sucked at playing the foosball.
Which brings me to my second confession - I'm extremely fond of Mark Dantonio and the Spartans. He's continuously pissed off, offended by everything his opponent does or says, including compliments, and that rage translates to his players, who rack up personal fouls at a truly dizzying pace. Cheap shots after the whistle, helmets twisted in a pile, fingers (and other appendages) pulled, bent or smashed, a short left cross to the kidneys away from the refs' eyes - whatever it is (and it's usually lots of things), Michigan State is here to fight. Literally fight you. And I dig that about them. Love every second of it, and I'm certain his players do as well. Physics, cohesion, law of attraction, etc.
Unfortunately, as I learned only too well, talent/ability matter in football, too. Therefore, if PSU can exchange bricks-to-the-head inside a phone booth with the Spartans while on defense (and not get suckered via trickeration), and then pop a few plays with speed/ability while on offense, our Lions leave Spartan Stadium with a hard-fought win.
Penn State 31, Michigan State 23
The positives in this game is that both teams are coming off heartbreaking losses in the waning seconds of the game against teams they both believed they could easily beat. The negative is that Michigan State is the team who gets to be pissed off in their own house, with the opportunity to kick the nuisance out of their property.
Penn State, however, has shown to be focused no matter what each week, and even in the loss at Ohio State, there were no signs of a hangover after blowing out Michigan the week prior. I expect the same kind of focus from the team coming into this game. I also expect them to be able to keep a lead this time around.
Penn State 24, Michigan State 10
Last week was heartbreaking; it wouldn't have been so had the Lions not shown they were ready to play from the opening kickoff forward. It was depth in the trenches that spurred the Buckeyes to victory, and that won't be the case this week. Michigan State is also coming off a rough loss in triple overtime to a Northwestern squad the Lions dominated on the road a few weeks ago. The Spartans are still ranked this week but likely won't be for long. The Lions will make good adjustments, and put this one away quickly. Talent isn't the only differential here; Mark Dantonio is a great coach, but the assistant coaches of Penn State have proven they're among the nation's best. Revenge isn't a motivator this year, but that doesn't mean this game will be close.
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: OC Joe Moorhead. Yes, not a player, but Moorhead's getting criticism for his playcalling in the fourth quarter of the Ohio State game, when the staff responded to the loss of Bates by losing a little creativity. Playcalling, and potential new wrinkles in the offense, will be key this week.
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF … PSU comes out a little flat as an effect of the OSU hangover, which causes fans to moan online.
PREDICTION: This Penn State team is incredibly talented, well-coached and motivated. All of those combined mean that Michigan State probably won't be in this one for long. Similar to their in-state rivals, the Spartans are very good on defense, but not as much on offense. Penn State exposed a Michigan team that was keeping it close and was able to overpower lesser talent in the trenches. The Lions should do the same this week.
Penn State 31, Michigan State 13
This is a game where intangibles will play a huge part. Both teams are coming off heart-breaking losses in the final moments that could ultimately derail their entire seasons. Both squads are very well-coached, so they should be able to bounce back well. However, we’re still talking about college students who are human, flaws and all.
Penn State’s offense will likely struggle at times, especially with a banged up offensive line. The key should come down to Penn State’s defense being able to regain form and limit Michigan State’s offense. They should be successful in shutting down the run game, forcing a young but efficient quarterback to regularly convert third-and-longs. If this happens, Penn State can win somewhat comfortably.
Trace McSorley throws for 280 yards and three touchdowns, with Mike Gesicki, DaeSean Hamilton and Saquon Barkley being the recipient of one each. The defense gets in on the action as well, with Koa Farmer scooping up a fumble for the second week in a row, this time taking it all the way to the end zone to help seal the game. Shareef Miller contributes two sacks, while Grant Haley comes away with a key interception.
Penn State 28, Michigan State 13