One of the top matchups for this upcoming week 12 of the 2010 college football season will be this Saturday (12:00pm ET) will be when the 10th ranked Michigan St. Spartans (10-1, 6-1 in Big 10) travel to State College, PA to take on the Penn St. Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-3) in a Big 10 showdown that has BCS bowl implications for the Spartans. Michigan St. will claim at least a share of the Big 10 championship, their first since 1990, with a victory on Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams. The Spartans are in the ironic position of rooting for their in-state rival Michigan to defeat Ohio St., as a Wolverines victory would give Michigan St. the Big 10’s automatic BCS bowl berth.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins, the leader of the Spartan offense, will start on Saturday despite a bum ankle in a game that will determine where the Spartans will be spending this bowl season. Cousins has been solid this season with 18 TDs and 9 INTs to go along with a 66.8% completion percentage. Michigan St averages 31.6 PPG and features a balanced offensive attack with and average of 244.2 YPG through the air and 169.4 YPG rushing. Edwin Baker leads the ground game with an average of 6.4 YPC and 12 TDs on the season. The Spartans rank 23rd in the nation with 19.9 PPG allowed on defense, and are especially tough to run on ranking 24th in the country with 125.4 YPG allowed on the ground.
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Penn St. will go with sophomore Matthew McGloin at quarterback; McGloin has been solid since taking over for freshman Robert Bolden with 11 TDs and only 3 INTs on the campaign. Senior Evan Royster is Penn State’s top threat on the ground with 831 rushing yards and 5 TDs, but his production is down from earlier in his career as he is only averaging 4.8 YPC this season. Penn St. has had a mediocre defensive unit this season compared to their usual high standards, but the Nittany Lions are strong against the pass ranking 25th in the country.
Michigan St. has never won at Beaver Stadium, and will be going for their first win in eight tries and their first 11 win season ever. Penn St. has won 5 out of the last 6 head-to- head meetings against Michigan St. straight up, including last season by a score of 42-14 at MSU. The over is 8-3 in MSU’s last 11 game son grass, and the over is 42-18-1 in their last 61 road games. In head-to-head play, the over is 11-2-1 in the last 14 meetings and the Spartans are 307 ATS in their last 10 meetings.
Michigan St. vs. Penn St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Michigan St. Spartans -1.5
@ Penn St. Nittany Lions +1.5
Over 51 (-110)
Under 51 (-110)
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Michigan St. vs. Penn St. Betting Predictions:
Spread Prediction (Top Play) – Michigan St. needs this game badly and should be able to pull it out on the road against a very mediocre Penn St. team. Penn St. does not stop the run very well, and MSU should be able to pound them with their running game and open up the play-action passing game for Cousins. Do not discount the possibility that crafty coach Mark Dantonio might have something up his sleeve similar to the fake field goal in overtime that he pulled off against Notre Dame.
Over/Under Prediction – Take the over here, the Spartans will get everything they can handle from Penn St. at home and the Nittany Lions have nothing to lose by pulling out all of the stops to ruin Michigan State’s bowl plans. Look for the Nittany Lions to throw the ball more than normal and to open up the playbook somewhat from their usual conservative approach. Michigan St. may have to alter their game plan an end up throwing a bit more as well, and this should push the total over 51.