Every team and/or coach has someone they never seem to match up well against no matter how many advantages they have entering the game. Late-era Paterno had Lloyd Carr and Craig Ferentz, James Franklin, it seems, has Mark Dantonio, so it wouldn’t be shocking for the weirdest things you’ve ever seen in football to occur during this game, particularly in East Lansing. Logic may say none of it is possible and yet it will happen. Penn State is coming off two tough, physical games, but the fact that Michigan State has had their number the last two seasons should be enough to gut out one more grueling contest before the bye.
Penn State 27, Michigan State 13
The question to me is which offense is going to show up against MSU? Will it be Jekyll, who can go up 28-0 on Purdue or 21-0 on Michigan? Or will it be Hyde, who can no longer gain any yardage, take any time off the clock, and goes three-and-out for 20 straight minutes of game time?
If Jekyll shows up, this game is a laugher, and the Lions win something like 38-7. If it’s Hyde, then we’re in for another more-stressful-than-necessary game, and the final is something like 17-14.
I’ll cautiously shoot the gap, since so far the offense tends to be both Jekyll and Hyde in every game, and say the Lions look good for a portion of the game, and look lost for a portion of the game.
Penn State 24, Michigan State 13
I will not lie, playing East Lansing scares the ever living you know what out of me. Each of the past two seasons Penn State has been the superior team to Michigan State and they still lost. Weird, weird things happen when Penn State plays Michigan State.
The talent discrepancy between this year’s Penn State team and this year’s Michigan State team is the greatest yet. That said, Sparty is coming off a bye week they had to prepare, they have another bye week looming allowing them to leave it all on the field, they’re a desperate team at 4-3, and it is supposed to rain in East Lansing on Saturday. This has Mark Dantonio specialty written all over it.
The Sparty offense has struggled this season, but each of the last two seasons Brian Lewerke has turned into Dan Marino plus Tom Brady times Brett Favre against Penn State. Also, the Spartan defense remains one of the best in the country.
In all honesty, there is no reason why Penn State should lose this game. However, reason goes out the window when these two teams play. Penn State will be drained, both mentally and physically, after back-to-back physical victories over ranked foes. Penn State is the better team, but James Franklin is 1-4 against Mark Dantonio including two losses as the better team. That combined with everything else surrounding this match up and the little voice in my head tells me we’ll all be disappointed around 7:00 PM on Saturday.
Michigan State 21, Penn State 17
I fully understand *why* I should be a afraid of this game, but I refuse to be. The reality is, Penn State is just better everywhere. And while that’s generally be the case the last two years and has resulted in losses, I think there are some variables that will affect that this time around. Not having Felton Davis to bail out Brian Lewerke this year is nice and and the Spartans have the worst rushing attack I can recall in the Dantonio era. Additionally, the last couple of years this has been a trap game for Penn State. I have to believe the players and coaches are fully aware of that this time around and are completely engaged, especially knowing there’s a nice bye week waiting on the other side. I think we’ll see the Spartans do a lot of what Michigan did at the end of last week’s game defensively, making the Nittany Lions put together long drives rather than explosive plays, but I think Penn State will be up for the task and moves to 8-0 and maybe even a top-five rankings before its second bye week of the year.
Penn State 20, Michigan State 10
Felton Davis ain’t walking through that door, but Mark Dantonio and Brian Lewerke sure are, and both have had PSU’s number lately (or in Dantonio’s case, this whole decade with a 5-1 record). Look, I have no doubt PSU is the better team on paper, but you can take that piece of paper and burn it Beavis & Butthead style (YEAH YEAH FIRE FIRE FIRE), because a desperate Sparty coming off a bye week gets to host a PSU team whom they have a mental edge over, and who also has had to grit out tight wins over Iowa and Michigan in the last two weeks. Did I neglect to also mention the weather forecast calls for possible rain during the game? I’ve seen this movie one too many times folks, and this one won’t have a happier ending than the others.
Michigan State 22, Penn State 20
I was tempted to pick the Spartans in this one. Yes, Mark Dantonio and Michigan State have been more successful against Penn State recently, but this team is different. Hamler, Dotson, Freiermuth, Clifford, and especially given the forecast, Noah Cain do JUST enough to get the win.
Penn State 20, Michigan State 17
This game is rightfully a scary one based on how the series has gone as of late. No matter how Michigan State looks, no matter how Penn State looks, the Spartans have found away to get the best of the Nittany Lions. James Franklin has been able to best Mark Dantonio only once since arriving in State college, and it required a 3-9 season on Michigan State’s side to make that happen. The Spartans already have four wins. Oh, and apparently it’s going to rain on Saturday. May the lord be with us.
Penn State 56, Michigan State 17
(originally appearing in the Game Preview)
I’ll be honest, this game really scares me. We’ve seen what Mark Dantonio and company can do against this team. We’ve witnessed the two shocking upsets from the last two seasons. It’s hard not to be concerned about history repeating itself.
Then there are the intangibles that all seem to go in Michigan State’s favor. Most notably, they are coming off a bye week while Penn State will need to make a road trip after facing two very physically-demanding opponents. They must also come off the emotional high following a huge White Out victory. The Spartans also have several experienced leaders on both sides of the ball, who will come in fully expecting to beat a top-10 Nittany Lions squad for the third year in a row.
While it will be a tough task, this year’s Penn State team has shown some subtle, yet major signs of growth. The definitely have proven to possess the resiliency that may have been missing in the past. They’re the overall better team, and should still come away victorious on Saturday.
No one lights up the stat sheet, but KJ Hamler is his usual self with a long touchdown reception and a punt return that sets up a huge score in the second half. Noah Cain gets the lions share of carries, and powers his way into the end zone for a score while Pat Freiermuth has a few key catches to keep the chains moving.
Micah Parsons builds off his monster performance a week ago to lead the team with 11 tackles and two TFLs. Yetur Gross-Matos contributes two sacks, while Robert Windsor chips in a sack and two TFLs as part of a big day overall for the Wild Dogs. The good guys come out on top of a tough battle heading into the bye week.
Penn State 20, Michigan State 13