The most intriguing thing about this game is how the team reacts coming off a loss. Two years ago, slogged their way against Minnesota at home eventually emerging victorious in overtime. That win would springboard the team on their magical run the rest of the season. Last year, inclement weather and a delay of over three hours in-game, on the road, against this Michigan State truly derailed what was expected to be a special season. There’s really no good reason to feel this should be a terribly competitive game, but the time to catch Penn State the last couple years has been following a loss. Perhaps the week off will give the team whatever it needed to move on/get over/sort out any issues that lingered.
Penn State 47, Michigan State 24
The bye week came at a perfect time for Penn State. Unlike following last year’s emotional 1-point loss to Ohio State, the team did not have to play the Saturday after this year’s 1-point loss to the Buckeyes. This gave them a few days to get over the emotions of the loss, and a whole week for these feelings to turn into anger.
Michigan State is not as bad as they were in 2016, but not as good as they were in 2017. If you can contain Felton Davis, their offense is in trouble. The Spartans have major issues in both run blocking and pass protection, and quarterback Brian Lewerke has battled the turnover bug. Penn State getting Shane Simmons back should only make Sparty’s OL woes an even bigger issue.
I expect the Nittany Lions to be a pissed off and motivated bunch on Saturday afternoon. This team will be out for revenge for last year’s last second loss to the Spartans, as well as some retribution for the Ohio State loss. Sparty’s secondary is a mess and will get torched by Trace McSorley and his receivers. Penn State gets back on track Saturday by winning big over the Spartans to bring the beautiful Land Grant Trophy back to State College.
Penn State 42, Michigan State 20
There isn’t much to say that Marty hasn’t. One thing I actually hope for, however, is for Miles Sanders to find his groove again. Michigan State has the nation’s top rush defense, and I’d love nothing more than for Boobie to hit them right in the jaw.
Penn State 49, Michigan State 17
Sparty just isn’t very good and too many things. Yes, they have a strong rush defense. Yes, Felton Davis is very good and Brian Lewerke can be at times, but elsewhere they’re floundering. Additionally, MSU is missing a ton of players on both sides of the ball to injury and at key positions (OL and DB), too. Like Marty and Chris, I feel the bye week helps PSU a ton and they come out hungry and boat race the Spartans.
Penn State 41, Michigan State 17
Way to steal everything I was going to say Marty...But in all seriousness, this is going to be a close game for perhaps a quarter but Penn State simply has the advantage in too many categories for the Spartans to keep up on Saturday. They may be able to bottle up Sanders but I’m expecting Trace to come out on a mission along with the rest of the offense and make a statement at home. I’m going Penn State by a huge margin even if it’s pretty unlikely. Now, let’s all sit back and enjoy the beautiful Land Grant Trophy.
Penn State 52, Michigan State 17
Penn State has a balanced offense. Michigan State can stop the run, but not the pass (usually).
Penn State 42, Michigan State 20
This game is going to be a pass-happy affair and exciting for fans of quarterbacks Trace McSorley and Brian Lewerke. Even though Michigan State has the top run defense, it won’t be enough to stop a McSorley attack in the air. And the Spartans’ unbalanced and injury-plagued offense (with 4 of 5 offensive linemen starters hurt) will tire by the second half, when Penn State is just getting warmed up. No, Sparty, no- not this time.
Penn State 42, Michigan State 21
No one has been able to run the ball on Michigan State thus far, so there’s a good chance that Trace McSorley will have to set a season high in pass attempts in order to get the Penn State offense moving. The problem is that he hasn’t been the most efficient passer in 2018, so we could see a sporadic showing with a lot of three-and-outs, but also a few big plays. I think the key will be Penn State’s defense slowing down Michigan State’s passing offense. If Brian Lewerke is allowed to hook up with Felton Davis III as often as he did last year, it could get ugly, but the pair hasn’t been so lethal of a combination this season. I think Amani Oruwariye and the secondary do enough to keep Davis contained and Penn State wins by a touchdown.
Penn State 31, Michigan State 24
This game will probably be closer than I am thinking, but I am a dumb-dumb who’s going to predict a three-touchdown victory anyway.
Penn State 42, Michigan State 21
Let’s see, here: A Michigan State team that’s reeling from a 10-point home loss to Northwestern with a hobbled offensive line and shaky secondary (“shaky” is probably too kind of a word to describe Sparty’s secondary right now) has to face a pissed-off and determined group of Nittany Lions who’ve been chomping at the bit for the past two weeks to take out their frustrations on someone other than each other in practice and apparently had the most focused practice this week in Franklin’s tenure? Good luck with that, Sparty! For good measure, Franklin will give C.J. Thorpe a chance to carry the ball in garbage time and good ol’ #69 will have a nice run into the end zone to put the exclamation mark on this one.
Penn State 55, Michigan State 16
Sparty is the Big Ten’s biker gang, and if I wasn’t a loyal son of Dear Old State, I’d jump on Mark Dantonio’s side car of boiling rage, and do my level best of garner half a dozen personal fouls before getting ejected. Having confessed that affection, and transitioning to sterile, rote analysis, Sparty is fully capable of beating PSU Saturday, and scares the hell out of me. I expect this game to be downright hideous at times for PSU, but hope we hit enough big plays - and Sparty makes enough dumb mistakes - to secure victory. Because apart from personal affection, Sparty has to be the most frustrating team in the nation. So many brilliant plays, yet too often followed by an uncontrollable desire to shoot itself in the face.
(originally appearing on PennLive)
The Nittany Lions are a two-score favorite after Michigan State lost to Northwestern at home last week, with PSU’s last outing being a one-point loss to the still-undefeated Ohio State. That seems…low. The Spartans were not the better team last season when the two squads played in East Lansing, but successfully took advantage of a thunderstorm delay and eked out a two point win. This week’s game won’t have the same weather – but it won’t be the typical beautiful fall Saturday either, with temperatures looking to be in the 40s or near fifty at game time.
But this is a James Franklin-coached squad, coming out after a bye week with a lot to prove – and after the head coach all but guaranteed that the Penn State program would join the ranks of college football’s elite sooner than later. While there’s one matchup that’s strength against strength (MSU’s run defense is the best in the nation, but the Nittany Lion run game is also top-10), in most of the other areas in this game, PSU should easily overmatch its opponent. This game will determine how close the team is to fulfilling Franklin’s promise.
PLAYER(S) ON THE SPOT: The entire offensive line. If they’re able to get even a semblance of push against Michigan State’s front seven, then this could be a good day on the ground. If not, that doesn’t bode well for future games – but luckily, last year after a BYE, the Lions played a top defense in Michigan at home – and won going away. The line, even with CJ Thorpe switching to defensive tackle, should hold their own.
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF … Much like in 2016, the score is close (or MSU leads) at halftime. But also like that game, it’ll feel more one-sided than it is, and the offense (and Trace McSorley, fresh off the only home loss he’s experienced as a starter) will get rolling in the second half. There won’t be any second guessing of last-second play calls this time.
THE PICK: This one won’t be close. Penn State rolls.
Penn State 45, Michigan State 17
(originally appearing in the Game Preview)
When I consider how these teams stack up against one another, I’m very confident in Penn State being able to take care of business with a thorough victory over the Spartans. Add that a hungry and motivated Nittany Lions squad is coming off a well-timed bye week, it should be no problem for Penn State to have a happy Homecoming afternoon with another win.
However, the opponent still gives me some pause. Mark Dantonio is a darn good coach, and the Spartans have a history of playing up to the level of its opponents against the better teams on its schedule.
I think this game will play out similarly to the last time the Spartans visited Happy Valley in 2016. Penn State’s offense may need some time to settle against a Spartans defense with a very talented front seven, while Lewerke will be able to find enough holes in the defense to keep the ball moving and get a couple early scores. But once Penn State gets things figured out and adjust accordingly, they will roll to a victory with the help of a big second half.
Trace McSorley passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers as he becomes the all-time leading passer in program history. Juwan Johnson breaks out of his slump with a 100-yard receiving effort and a score, while Mac Hippenhammer has the best day of his young career with 75 yards and a touchdown.
Penn State’s defensive line takes advantage of a beaten up Spartans offensive line, finishing with six sacks as Shareef Miller and Shaka Toney contribute two apiece. Kevin Givens also has a big day with 2.5 TFLs and a fumble recovery.
Penn State 42, Michigan State 20