Penn State saw its CFP hopes dashed when it lost to Michigan State last year, but now it would like some revenge, though MSU doesn’t have any CFP desires at this point. Even better for the Nittany Lions is they’re coming off a bye after falling to Ohio State a couple weeks ago. Playing at home, the Lions were large -13.5 point favorites with an over/under of 55.5 as of Tuesday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
This spread is large but it kind of makes sense combining MSU’s struggles with PSU’s ability to Scoreand that it should be fully rested coming into this Game. The Spartans won this matchup last year on the arm of Brian Lewerke and he’s been far from reaching those types of levels this season. That’s led to a lot of close and disappointing wins or losses as a favorite for Michigan State. This should be the perfect Game for Trace McSorley to go off, assuming he doesn’t have three interceptions like he did against this defense last year.
McSorley also threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s loss, but the turnovers cost him. He’s going against a secondary that’s getting torched in every Game, allowing 305 passing yards per contest and they haven’t exactly played an elite quarterback yet. McSorley is only completing 52.9% of his passes this year, but that may not matter against this defense. The main hope for MSU is that McSorley’s 50% completion rate continues, otherwise it could be a long day similar to 2016 when Penn won 45-12 at home. The Spartans still can’t be completely overlooked because their defensive line is one of the best in the country, allowing a ridiculous 34 rushing yards per Game. If Miles Sanders and McSorley are both held in check running the ball, there’s no telling what the offense can do. Sure, McSorley will put up yards and get the offense to 30 points, but will that be enough to cover?
PSU’s main issue on the defensive end has been stopping the run, but conveniently that’s MSU’s weakness. Battling through injuries to top running back LJ SCott and numerous offensive linemen, the Spartans are averaging 3.4 yards per carry with no one at more than 147 rushing yards. For them to pull an upset in this Game, everything will have to change. Otherwise, Lewerke just hasn’t been good enough to put the team on his back and drop 30 points on the board. Due to lackluster play calling, Lewerke has just six touchdowns and six interceptions this year, far behind last year’s 20 TDs. His yards per attempt is up to 7.68, but that doesn’t matter if they can’t put the ball in the end zone.
There are statistical reasons to take both sides in this Game, but Michigan State also has the impossible task of hosting Michigan the following weekend. There’s no reason for MSU to look ahead as a large underdog, yet it’s a rivalry Game so it’s at least logical.
The Spartans are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 following an ATS loss, but 3-8 ATS in their last 11 road Games. The Nittany Lions have covered in their last seven home Games vs. a team with a winning road record and are 12-3-2 ATS in their last 17 overall at home. The over is 15-3-1 in the last 19 meetings between these schools and the favorite is 6-1 ATS in the last seven.
Our Pick – Penn State -13.5