Penn State vs. Michigan State ATS Picks
By Andrew Ryan
The Penn State Nittany Lions had their hearts ripped out last week at the Horseshoe by Ohio State. They’ve still got a chance to ultimately reach the College Football Playoff this year, but their margin for error is now officially nil. A win over the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing is an absolute must at this point.
Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan State Spartans
Date and Time: Saturday, November 4, 2017, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Opening College Football Odds: Penn State -9
Penn State vs. Michigan State TV Coverage: FOX
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when the first College Football Playoff rankings come out on Tuesday. The Nittany Lions will surely be in the mix after losing by a single point to Ohio State on Saturday at the Horseshoe. That said, Oklahoma beat Ohio State, and the Sooners don’t seem to be getting enough love for that victory. Penn State should theoretically be behind them both, especially since the Nittany Lions don’t have a single notably victory to date outside of the seemingly suspect triumph over Michigan.
Still, this Penn State team is really good. Saquon Barkley was bottled up against the Buckeyes to the tune of just 44 yards on 21 carries, but he showed explosiveness in the running game and the passing game while tossing in a kickoff return for a touchdown that started the game.
That said, these Nittany Lions had over a 97 percent chance of beating Ohio State according to ESPN’s FPI with less than five minutes to play and blew it. It’s going to be really hard to rebound from such a defeat.
Michigan State built National Championship hopes for a hot minute, but after losing in three overtimes at Northwestern on Saturday, all of that is now gone. The Spartans still actually control the Big Ten East if they can win out, but that requires beating Penn State at home this week and Ohio State on the road next week. Good luck with that.
It wasn’t all that shocking to see Sparty go down in Evanston; Michigan State was only -2 in the game. However, to give up 432 yards in the game and let the Wildcats score touchdowns in all three of their overtime periods was something that we didn’t expect to see.
We also didn’t think that Brian Lewerke had a 445-yard passing performance in him. That’s what happens when MSU rushes for just 95 yards on 30 carries, nine carries and 30 yards of which came from Lewerke himself.
21.4 – The percentage of the time Barkley has been stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage this season.
Barkley has evolved into a true home run hitter, but just as he had plenty of problems getting going at times against Ohio State, this could be a huge test against a really good defensive line that has had some moments of real dominance this season.
Barkley is going to get his yards and his scores in all likelihood due to the fact that he’s incredibly tricky to try to bring down when he gets into open spaces, but keep in mind that he was bottled up when PSU needed him the most. Six of Barkley’s last nine runs went for negative yardage against the Bucks.
Penn State vs. Michigan State Free Picks
This is a great spot to back Sparty at your favorite online sportsbook. The game against Northwestern was always a lookahead spot, especially with not just one, but two games against top-10 teams coming up in succession. Sure, that game was lost, but the Spartans probably spent much of their week with their eyes on this game against Penn State.
We suspect the Nittany Lions are going to get a raw deal from the Selection Committee. We think they should be in front of unbeaten teams like Wisconsin and Miami, but we aren’t sure that’s going to be the case. This is a good football team and one that can beat anyone in the nation.
Still, it’s hard to rebound from such an emotional loss, especially with expectations abound that this game will be a blowout. Look for the Spartans to get back to basics and turn this game into a grind. We’re not sure Penn State is going to have the ability to survive if that’s the case.
College Football ATS Pick: Michigan State +9 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Michigan State 20, Penn State 17