College Football Pick
Michigan State was looking like a sneaky Big Ten title contender once again, but then a 24-point beat down at home against Wisconsin took away those thoughts immediately. Back in East LAnsing, the Spartans take on a BYU team in non-Conference play that will be the opposite of easy, despite their record.
At this early writing, Michigan State is a -6 point home favorite.
The Cougars have a losing record, but that’s not a whole lot to fault them for with their first Four Games going against Power 5 schools. They took down Arizona in the opener, but then went on to lose their next three by a total of seven points. Losing at Utah by one and against UCLA by three, shows that BYU can’t be taken lightly.
Michigan State knows that coming in, but it may not matter in the end. The last time the Spartans played a decent defense, they collapsed scoring just six points against the Badgers. BYU may not be at those same levels, but they have held down similarly talented offenses. On the other end of that, the Cougars were in a shootout against Toledo last Friday, winning 55-53. So far, they have held UCLA to 17 points and gave up 53 to Toledo.
Whatever the case, BYU’s strong suit is its rush defense and if the Cougars want a shot to win or cover, that’ll need to show up here. Sophomore MSU running back LJ SCott has had his miscues, but betting against him to succeed behind this line will be tough. State will want to pound the ground Game as much as possible, whether that’s SCott or Gerald Holmes. If that doesn’t work, then they’ll turn to Tyler O’Connor to move the chains, which definitely isn’t a certainty.
And that’s exactly what BYU wants, to force the Spartans to pass. Then again, the Cougars just gave up 505 yards passing to Toledo.
Of course, on the other side, BYU will have its own problems as well with dual-threat QB Taysom Hill being ineffective through the air in his first five Games with five TDs and six INTs. But his mobility will be key in this Game and against a linebacker group that’s beat up at the moment, Hill could find success. In addition to that, the Spartans have struggled against mobile quarterbacks through the years, namely whoever is QB at Nebraska, a team BYU went toe-to-toe with last year.
Along with Hill, Jamaal Williams has had a solid start despite getting held to just 86 yards against Utah and UCLA combined. But he’s coming off a 286-yard, five-TD performance at Toledo. The problem is that MSU’s rush defense is a little better than Toledo’s and probably the best part of the team led by Malik McDowell on the line. If Williams can’t find any room, then Hill will be forced into doing things BYU doesn’t want.
This one has all the makings of another close Game for BYU, similar to every other Game they’ve been in this season, none having been decided by more than three points. But playing in East LAnsing, the Spartans will want to give their fans a win after having them watch the last abomination. However, Michigan State will be plenty hard to trust with O’Connor under center this season, even at home. BYU +6