Head coach Mark Dantonio still has his cardiac kids, no pun intended, not skipping a beat and the Spartans are mowing down their schedule. No heart ailment is going to keep the Spartans head coach from having his grasp on any game his team is involved in, just last week he assumed his duties from the coordinators box and made a passionate halftime speech which propelled his team to dominate the second half of their game against Illinois. The (7-0) Michigan State Spartans will take their perfect record into Ryan Field and clash with the (5-1) Northwestern Wildcats in a Big 10 rivalry game, kickoff slated for 12 PM EST. The Wildcats suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of the Purdue Boilermakers, a game riddled with countless mental mistakes and miscues. These teams last hooked up last season, the Spartans prevailed 24-14 at home.
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The Spartans have had their share of trouble over the years with the Northwestern Wildcats and have been scheming all week for the Cats high-powered offense. If ever one could make a case for a “trap” game this would be it. Michigan State hits the highway carrying a load of hype behind them to face perennial bottom feeder Northwestern. The Spartans sit alone atop the Big Ten standings with a perfect 3-0 record. Ohio State just got beat by Wisconsin and the Badgers now travel to Iowa, which could set up as an elimination game of sorts. After playing a lack luster first-half last week, the Spartans avenged Illinois’ spread offensive attack and dominated the second half. QB Kirk Cousins is the solid leader at quarterback for the Spartans. Cousins is completing 66% of his passes and has thrown 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He does have a sprained ankle, but he is expected to play in this game. The Michigan State rushing attack is one of the best in the nation. The Spartans have a pair of great rushers in Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell. Both of them are averaging almost seven yards per carry this year. Michigan State is averaging 206 yards per game on the ground. This is a balanced offense that has proven very difficult to shut down this year. Important to note, the Spartans have only played 1 game away from East Lansing (Michigan).
The Wildcats enter this game a bit perplexed and baffled as the Purdue Boilermakers stymied them at home two weeks ago. They were 8 point favorites and the betting public were all over this match up, but the Cats could not get anything going on the offensive side of the ball and were plagued by turnovers. The bye week should have this group healthy and adequately prepared for this huge Big 10 bout. Quarterback Dan Persa leads the Wildcats offense. Persa basically does it all for this team. He is both their leading passer and their leading rusher. He already has 1,663 yards through the air, and he has thrown only two interceptions all season. Jeremy Ebert is the main play maker on the outside, and he already has five touchdown catches this year. The lack of a consistent running game will definitely hurt this team against the best teams in the conference this year. At the same time, Northwestern runs a unique offense that is difficult to defend if they execute it well. The Northwestern defense isn’t great against the run or the pass, but they have done a nice job keeping their opponent out of the end zone this year. The key statistic for this unit is that they only allow 29.5% of third down conversion attempts against them to be successful. This weekend will be a big test for this defense against such a balanced offense. They must hold up and force field goals if their team is going to have a chance to win this game.
Michigan State vs North Western Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Michigan State Spartans -6
@ Northwestern Wildcats +6
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Spartans vs Wildcats Betting Predictions for Week 8:
Spread Prediction (TOP PLAY) – Don’t look now, but the Michigan State Spartans are undefeated and control their own destiny in the Big Ten race. Mark Dantonio has this team playing solid fundamental football and they are all the way up to #7 in the national rankings. A seventh ranked team in the country laying only 6 points on a mid-tear program is hard to read, and also extremely hard to pass up. The Spartans on paper are a much stronger and faster team and should be able to avoid the “trap” and get by this Wildcats threat. When Michigan State plays as a road team and are coming off back-to-back wins they are 9-2 ATS over the last 5 years. Michigan State has won 4 of the last 6 between these two programs and is on a 3-0 ATS streak. I believe the loss two weeks ago to the Boilermakers really spoiled the hopes of the Wildcats for this season and I seem them playing a really safe, low-key effort this Saturday afternoon. We will consider the Spartans remaining perfect on the year and cruising into next weeks heavy-weight bout with Iowa firing on all cylinders.
Game Total Prediction – The Spartans defense has been vastly improved from last year and it is the sole reason why this program is undefeated and 7th in the nation. Any team that can keep the likes of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin to 47 combined points will be in defensive conversations with the best of them. The Spartans held the Illini to 114 rushing yards, 103 below their season average, and forced four turnovers. Greg Jones was named national defensive player of the week after recording a season-high 14 tackles. Northwestern may use its complex spread offense to confuse a Michigan State defense which allows 16.6 points per game to rank 17th in the country. I see this game as a defensive struggle, the Spartans still are trying to overcome some offensive struggles as of late and the Wildcats are coming off of a bye and will need a few series to get firing again. The Spartans have had their games reach the UNDER in consecutive outings and the Wildcats were stuffed for only 17 points two weeks ago. I recommend taking a look at the UNDER in this Big 10 affair. Cheers!
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