Michigan State vs. Wake Forest Pick 12/27/19
Michigan State Spartans (6-6 SU, 3-9 ATS) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-4 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)
When: Friday, Dec. 27, 3:20 p.m.
Where: Yankee Stadium, New York
Point Spread: MIST -3.5/WAKE +3.5 (Best Bonus)
Total: O/U 49.5
It’s probably fitting that these two teams end their season in a baseball stadium that’s trying to be a football stadium. Both squads have been trying to find an identity of their own all year and haven’t been all that successful at doing it. Wake Forest rode a weak schedule to a 7-1 start, but the Deacons crashed from there, getting blown out at Clemson and Virginia Tech and losing in overtime to Syracuse on the road. Michigan State had no problem riding its defense past Maryland and Rutgers to land in a bowl game, but against the likes of Michigan, Penn State, and even Illinois, the Spartans couldn’t get the job done. Can they stop a Wake Forest offense that has averaged more than 473 yards per game?
How the Public is Betting the Michigan State/Wake Forest Game
The line has held at 3.5, but the total has increased to 49.5 from its opening of 49.
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Michigan State: Corner Josiah Scott (head) and running back Elijah Collins (ankle) are questionable, while tight end Matt Dotson has a torn Achilles and is done for the season.
Wake Forest: Defensive back Nasir Greer is out with a knee injury. Offensive lineman Nathan Gilliam (foot) and defensive lineman Sulaiman Kamara (lower body) are both questionable, while quarterback Jamie Newman is probable with a right leg injury.
When Michigan State Has the Ball
Shield your children’s eyes. Michigan State’s offense has been nothing short of a mess when it has the ball, as the Spartans have played five games where they’ve scored 10 points or fewer, and it’s because the Spartans cannot move the ball. Brian Lewerke has been serviceable at quarterback in terms of yardage, but when you’re only throwing 16 touchdowns against 12 interceptions, that’s not a great situation for a Big Ten quarterback. The same token is true for Elijah Collins, who piled up 892 rushing yards but only managed five touchdowns on the season. This was a team that had no problem gaining yards and moving the ball but couldn’t get things going at all once they got into the red zone. The good news is that it’s a great way to bleed the clock, but the bad news is that it puts a lot of pressure on the defense, a unit that wasn’t always able to stand up to the pressure.
When Wake Forest Has the Ball
Against the right opponent, Jamie Newman lit up scoreboards, throwing for 20 touchdowns during the 7-1 start. But when the schedule got tougher, Newman didn’t rise to the occasion. Over the final four games of the season, he managed just three touchdowns and completed a grand total of 42 passes, far from the kind of numbers that win games. The big issue is that the Deacons’ running game isn’t strong enough to keep pace with opponents when Newman isn’t getting the job done, as Cade Carney and Kenneth Walker only combined for 1,111 rushing yards on the season, which was serviceable against lesser opponents, but really should have been a lot higher in a weak ACC.
Newman and the Deacons will have much of their success determined by how well their wideouts can break free against the Michigan State defense. Sage Surratt and Kendall Hinton fell just short of 2,000 receiving yards for the year, and either can cause a lot of damage in a hurry if they get a chance to do so.
The Spartans have been a straight-up disaster against the spread as of late, losing 13 of their past 16 games ATS, including last year’s Redbox Bowl nightmare against Oregon. That’s actually their only bowl loss ATS in their previous six trips to the postseason, but they’ve also lost seven straight ATS against teams with a winning record. Wake has also been a great bowl team, covering in five of its past six postseason games. The Deacons haven’t quite been the nightmare that the Spartans have been, even though they did finish rather poorly. When it comes to the total, going under is probably the right move, as 15 of the past 20 Michigan State games and 7 of the previous 10 Wake Forest games have gone under the total.
There are a lot of reasons why I wouldn’t want to be in New York in December, not the least of which is the weather. 45 and a shower is not the weather I dream of when I think bowl game, but that’s what the Spartans and Deacons will face.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Michigan State being favored leads me to believe that either the public doesn’t trust Wake Forest or hasn’t been watching Michigan State. The Deacons might have crashed down the stretch, but they also did play the likely national champion in Clemson and a Virginia Tech team that came on strong at the end of the year. Michigan State won its past two games, but they were over Maryland and Rutgers, the whipping boys of the Big Ten.
The Spartans still can’t find the end zone, and the Deacons, even while they were losing, still managed to put up points against the likes of Syracuse and Duke. If Illinois can score on Michigan State, so can Wake Forest. Give me the Deacons.
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