College Football Pick
Penn State still has a chance to win the Big Ten East, which seemed impossible early in the season. With a Buckeyes win this weekend, the Nittany Lions would get the edge in the East and reach the title Game. If that happens, they would then have a shot at reaching the College Football Playoff with a Conference championship.
But before they start thinking of that, Penn State still has to take down Michigan State, a team that beat them 55-16 a year ago. PSU is currently a 12.5 point home favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Sure, things are a lot different than last year and that Scorewas a little worse than the Game actually was (MSU scored the final 21 points of the Game), but the Spartans have shown they can put up a fight this season.
While getting a win is another question, the Spartans were able to compete with both Michigan and Ohio State in recent contests. The difference is that this one is in Happy Valley where Penn State hasn’t lost this year. They’ve come close plenty of times, but still have that big win over Ohio State, which is how they got into this position in the first place. And in their most recent home Game, the Nittany Lions disposed of Iowa 41-14.
As for Michigan State, they’ve already lost at Indiana, Maryland and Illinois. It wouldn’t be surprising if this Game was a little higher scoring, somewhat similar to last year. The Spartans have shown they can run on every defense, so if that’s the case, they may be able to keep up on the scoreboard. Of course, quarterback remains an issue and with someone a little more able than Tyler O’Connor, they could’ve upset Ohio State last weekend.
But MSU will use LJ SCott early, who is coming off a ridiculous 236-yard, two-TD performance against the Buckeyes. against Michigan, he also had a solid 186 total yards. If SCott can have a similar outing against a good defensive front, that would carve out a route to covering for the road team.
But stopping Penn State is another issue. The Spartans have been fine defensively at home in recent Games, but they struggled against Illinois and Maryland on the road. And surprisingly, Penn State’s offense hasn’t been stopped in recent Games since the OSU win, going for at least 41 points in the last three.
Running back Saquon Barkley is at the head of that and expects to see a large dosage. However, he did struggle mightily in the win against Indiana, rushing for only 58 yards on 33 carries. He also picked up an injury against Rutgers, so his status is of concern. But that’s where quarterback Trace McSorley comes in, who has been a step above O’Connor this season. McSorley isn’t amazing with 16 TDs to 5 INTs, but he’s doing enough for what the offense needs to succeed.
The Spartans have won the last three meetings and this will be their season finale as a bowl Game is out of reach. They’ll likely go all out in this Game, while the Nittany Lions are favorites against a team that has one Conference win. Will they be motivated to cover? It’s hard to see Penn State losing, but if Michigan State comes to play again, it won’t be easy for the home team.
The over is 13-3-1 in the last 17 meetings between these schools, while the favorite has covered the last five times.
Our Pick – Penn State -12.5