Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2 SU, 4-6 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans (6-5 SU, 5-5 ATS), 3:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, November 21, 2009, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich. TV: ABC
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Penn State -3/Michigan State +3
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After losing to Ohio State, Penn State lost its chance to win the Big Ten and play in the Rose Bowl. The Nittany Lions rebounded with a 31-20 win over Indiana last week after a slow start in the first half. PSU has a chance to get its 10th win in its last regular season game, while Michigan State tries to finish over .500.
Ohio State shut down the Penn State offense, holding the Nittany Lions to seven points. Indiana held PSU to three points for much of the first half before a late touchdown at the end of the half. But after turning the ball over four times in the first half, the Nittany Lions came alive with three second half touchdowns against the Hoosiers. Evan Royster had 95 rushing yards, 39 receiving yards, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown, Darryl Clark had 194 passing yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown, and the PSU defense came up with a touchdown in the second half on an interception return by Navorro Bowman.
For the season, Clark has 2,477 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also has 107 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Royster has 990 rushing yards and six touchdowns, as well as 187 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Derek Moye is the team’s leading receiver with 41 receptions for 676 yards and five touchdowns. Graham Zug has 38 receptions for 450 yards and five touchdowns.
Michigan State has had a streaky season. After starting with a win, the Spartans lost three in a row, then won three in a row, lost two in a row, and have now won two in a row. The Spartans have scored at least 24 points in all but one game this season. They are scoring 41 points per game in their last three games.
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown for 2,305 yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. Blair White is the wide receiver who Penn State has to stop. White leads the team with 61 receptions for 854 yards and eight touchdowns. Larry Caper is MSU’s leading rusher with 411 yards and six touchdowns. In MSU’s 40-37 win over Purdue, Cousins struggled. He completed just 11-of-25 pass attempts for 208 yards, but he did throw three touchdowns. White had only three receptions for 18 yards, but one of his catches was a touchdown.
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The key for Penn State’s offensive success is running the ball well. Michigan State has a very good run defense, allowing 105.9 rushing yards per game and a 3.2 yards-per-carry average. Penn State has the eighth best run defense in the country, allowing 93.9 rushing yards per game and a 2.9 yards-per-carry average. For Michigan State, the key will be to not turn the ball over. Penn State has a terrific defense and will try to put Pressure on Cousins and make him throw bad passes. If the Spartans are going to have a chance to win this game, they have to protect the ball. They have a good enough offense that they can score some points if they don’t turn it over. If they can do that and stop Royster, they could pull off the upset.
Penn State is 6-3 ATS in the last nine games against Michigan State, including a 49-18 win for PSU last season. Penn State has won four of the last five against MSU. Penn State is 3-0 ATS on the road this season. Only one of PSU’s 10 lined games have gone over this season.
Ryno’s Pick: The Nittany Lions have allowed 44 points in their last two games, and Michigan State has scored 40 or more points in its last two games, so PSU will have to score some points to win this game. The Nittany Lions have scored over 30 points in three of their last four games, so it’s not like they can’t put up a lot of points. Royster has to get it going on the ground. When he runs well, Clark can throw efficiently. But if MSU shuts down the running game of Penn State, Clark has trouble carrying the offense. Certainly, PSU can’t turn the ball over four times like it did against Indiana. Penn State won this game by 31 points last season, so a lot of things will have to go MSU’s way to win the game. In the end, Penn State is too strong on defense to lose this game. Take Penn State -3.