Michigan State Spartans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview and Pick

Michigan State Spartans (9-2) +14.5 at Penn State Nittany Lions (10-1) -14.5 Saturday, Nov. 22 - 3:30 pm ET - Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA - ABC
by Matt of Predictem.com

The Big Ten title is up for grabs this Saturday as the Michigan State Spartans travel to Happy Valley to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State’s national title hopes were derailed a few weeks back at Iowa and now the No.15 Spartans stand in the way of a potential Rose Bowl for the Lions. The winner of this game will at least share the Big Ten title that could become a solo championship should Michigan upset Ohio State. The game kicks at 3:30pm ET as the second half of an ABC doubleheader.

Penn State opened as an 11 point favorite with the college football sportsbooks moving the line to 14.5 or 15 after early week action. Check back with offshore books throughout the week for updated money line and over/under total info as it becomes available.

After an opening week loss at Cal, Michigan State reeled off six straight victories to be a player in the national picture. Ohio State thumped Spartya few weeks back, but State has rebounded with three consecutive W’s to get to 6-1 in the Big Ten, tied for first with Penn State and Ohio State. The Spartans are 9-2 overall on the year with a 3-1 mark away from home, maintaininga 6-5 against the spread record, 3-1 ATS as a visitor. The Spartans are 7-2 against the spread in the last 9 against .500 or better teams, but are just 1-4 against the spread in the last 5 versus Penn State.

No. 8 Penn State looked unstoppable at 9-0 after clipping Ohio State, but slipped at Iowa, 23-24, ending the potential perfect season. The Lions handled Indiana in last week’s action and now turn their sights on finishing off a Big Ten title and staying in the BCS at large picture. Penn State is 6-0 at home this year, although only 3-2 against the spread at Beaver Stadium and 6-3-1 ATS overall. PSU is only 3-7-1 in their last 11 conference matchups, but his series is home team friendly, with the hosts going 8-3 against the spread in the last 11 meetings.

The Spartans bring a pretty average overall offense to the game, but trot out one of the premier playmakers in the country in Javon Ringer. The Michigan State offense as a whole ranks 64th and 65th in passing and rushing yards per game, and 53rd in the NCAA at 26.9 points per game. The Spartan D is marginally better, with top-50 ranks in passing and total yards allowedbut excel in keeping the opposition off the board, giving up only 19.5 points per game. Michigan State will be a near full strength for Saturday, with WR Mark Dell the only notable injury issue, listed as questionable with an undisclosed ailment.

Brian Hoyer leads the Spartans from the quarterback spot, competing 49.3% of his passes for 2,030 yards and 8 touchdowns against 6 picks. Javon Ringer is a stud at tailback, leading the team with 1,542 rush yards and scoring 20 touchdowns, adding 21 grabs out of the backfield. Blair White and B.J. Cunningham each have 30+ receptions, combining for nearly 1,000 yards and will have to pick up the slack should Mark Dell be limited or out.

Penn State has been among the best offensive units in the country throughout the season, averaging over 440 total yards and a 12th best, 39.4 points per game. The Lions are a run first team, averaging 218 yards on the ground with solid backs and a running option at the quarterback position. The State defense is statistically better than the offense, ranking in the top-10 in the yardage allowed categories and giving up only 11.9 points per game, good for 5th in the NCAA. The Penn State injury report includes no injuries to notable starters.

Daryll Clark calls the signals for the Lions, throwing for 1,831 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 8 scores and 261 yards on the ground. Evan Royster is averaging 6.5 yards per carry on the way to 1,123 rushing yards and 12 TD’s with Stephon Green adding 501 yards and 4 scores as the change-up back. Deon Butler leads the team in catches (40) and yards (580) and has found the endzone 4 times. Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams round out a solid receiving corps, combining for 878 yards and 7 touchdowns.

My Pick: Ohio State should take care of Michigan in the early game, making this game extremely important for Penn State’s bowl prospects. Michigan State has notplayed that well, even in wins,against the better teams on their schedule and a hungry Lions squad at home should prove too much handle for the Spartans. Penn State by 10 at half and stretching out in the late going for a 38-17 final.