Penn State vs. Michigan State prediction and game preview. The Nittany Lions will know before they face the Spartans if they can reach the Big Ten title game.
Penn State vs. Michigan State Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 26 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Penn.
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Penn State’s chances of reaching the Big Ten Championship hinge on the result from the Ohio State-Michigan game earlier in the day. If Michigan wins, the Nittany Lions are out of the running for the East division title. Should Ohio State win, a victory over the Spartans would send Penn State to Indianapolis for the first time since the conference started playing a title game.
Michigan State was there last year and earned its trip to the College Football Playoff. It’s a far different scenario this year as the Spartans complete the most disappointing season in coach Mark Dantonio’s 10-year tenure. They nearly pulled off a huge upset last week against Ohio State, and if they’re able to leave with a win this week, it could ruin Penn State’s chances of reaching a major bowl game.
What To Know About Penn State
Penn State has won seven in a row since that 49-10 loss at Michigan on Sept. 24. It has proved the victory over Ohio State was no fluke while shooting up to No. 8 in the AP Top 25. The Nittany Lions have outscored their last four opponents by a combined 118 points and had no issues in last week’s 39-0 win over Rutgers.
Saquon Barkley has leveled off a bit since a pair of 200-yard games, but he did finish with 92 and scored a touchdown for the fourth straight week. Penn State was crushed last year, 55-16, by Michigan State, but Barkley ran 17 times for 103 yards. He’ll be looking for another solid performance like that in this meeting, except with a better result.
What To Know About Michigan State
The Spartans are 3-8 and have only one Big Ten victory, but they looked much better than that last week. They were a 2-point conversion away from ruining Ohio State’s Playoff hopes and fell, 17-16. Dantonio made the call to go for two with less than five minutes remaining rather than tie the game, and Tyler O’Connor’s pass was intercepted. O’Connor had another rough performance, something that has become the norm throughout the season when he’s been healthy. That’s part of the reason the Spartans rely so much on L.J. Scott, who ran for 160 yards and a touchdown while adding 76 yards and another score receiving last week.
Defensive standout Malik McDowell has missed the last two games with an injury, and if he doesn’t play in this contest, his Michigan State career could be over. McDowell is expected to be a high first-round pick if he were to declare for the NFL draft.
Offense: Penn State – Barkley is the conference’s leading rusher with 1,205 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Defense: Penn State – Garrett Sickels will try to plug holes the Spartans try to make for Scott and get into the backfield.
Special Teams: Penn State – Michigan State’s kick coverage is one of the worst in the Big Ten.
Coaching: Michigan State – The records don’t show it, but many would still take Dantonio over James Franklin any day.
Intangibles: Michigan State – The Spartans have won the last three meetings, including two at Beaver Stadium.
Matchup To Watch
Barkley vs. Michigan State’s defense
If McDowell is out, the Spartans and their already thin defensive line are going to be in for a long day. Barkley can get going early and keep piling it on throughout the game, and Michigan State won’t be able to stop him.
Spread: Penn State -12.5
Penn State vs. Michigan State Prediction
Barkley’s 165 yards and two touchdowns are enough to push Penn State past the Spartans and Scott, who won’t be able to win this one by himself.
Penn State vs. Michigan State Final Score Prediction: Penn State 31, Michigan State 17