The Michigan State Spartans travel to Happy Valley where they will meet their most formidable opponent yet this season. That’s awful news for a Michigan State team who hasn’t really played anyone great, yet have a record of 3-2. They had to scrape and fight to beat Utah State in the season opener, and then there are other two wins were against Indiana and Central Michigan. MSU were around four touchdown favorites against Central, but they had to settle for a much closer score of 31-20.
Their best opponent so far was last week against Northwestern. As 10-point favorites at home, the Spartans didn’t come close to covering that number as they took a 29-19 loss at Spartan Stadium. As much as Michigan State fans want to bash Michigan, they have nothing to say these days.
It’s been disappointing all the way around, but Brian Lewerke has been a major busy for the Spartans this season. He’s thrown 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions with 64.2% completions. The scheme that Mark Dantonio is running in East Lansing isn’t going anywhere with this personnel on the field. It works with a running back like Le’Veon Bell and an offensive line. This is old school football, line up and smash the other defense in the mouth. Lewerke has some running ability, but this system doesn’t allow him to show that off.
The problem with Michigan State is that they don’t have a go-to running back like they usually do, and then the offensive line is getting bullied. It’s a predictable scheme that has gone nowhere for the Spartans in 2018. Offensive coordinator Dave Warner has failed to make adjustments on the fly and that’s been holding them back as well.
Dantonio is set in his ways, so as long as he is here, Michigan State is not likely going to mix anything up. If the Spartans can’t get something going and continue struggling into next season, Dantonio’s seat is going to suddenly start to get really hot. They have a great opportunity on Saturday to shift this season in the right direction. A quality game on the road against a team like Penn State would do wonders for the team morale around East Lansing. Head below for our free Michigan State vs. Penn State pick on Saturday afternoon.
Michigan State Spartans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions NCAAF Betting Odds:
Michigan State +13.5(-110)
vs. Penn State -13.5(-110)
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Michigan State vs. Penn State Pick:
The last time the Spartans took a trip to Happy Valley it didn’t go so well. They lost 45-12 as they watched Trace McSorley pass for 376 yards and 4 touchdowns on their hapless secondary. That was in 2016 and some of the same issues are hurting Michigan State. They may have some talent up-front on defense, but there is a lack of talent in the secondary.
Running on Michigan State proves to be a difficult task. However, offenses are gladly just taking to the air and exposing an anemic safety and cornerback core. This is kind of new to the Spartans, as they typically had a defense that was incredibly difficult to pass on. The Connor Cook and Kurt Cousins teams had a solid defense to help them out. Northwestern, a team that is not typically known for its air game, passed for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns.
You wouldn’t expect to find Michigan State next to Ole Miss defensively, but there they are, 123rd in the nation against the pass with 305.2 yards allowed per game. They are just 2 yards better than the Rebels in that regard. Teams like Oregon State and Arkansas who can’t get off the field rank better than MSU against the pass. We’ll see if McSorley can take advantage of this Michigan State secondary on Saturday. Any hope the Spartans had that Penn State would have a letdown this week is dashed with the fact that the Nittany Lions had a bye this past week.
After losing a close one to Ohio State, 27-26, Penn State were saved by a bye instead of having to go out the following week to play the Spartans. Penn State have had extra time to prepare for Michigan State, which likely isn’t going to bode well for the visitors. McSorley is going to find it a lot easier to find success against this secondary than Ohio State. He still threw for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns, but look for him to light it up and touch over 300 yards for the first time this year. Lewerke isn’t going to be able to pass the Spartans back into this game. Penn State lay the hammer on the Spartans and bounce back in impressive fashion after their loss to the Buckeyes two weeks ago.