Michigan State Spartans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview and Pick

Michigan State Spartans
(10-1, 6-5 ATS)

Penn State Nittany Lions
(7-4, 5-6 ATS)


Normally when the Penn State Nittany Lions and Michigan State Spartans meet in NCAA football betting action, it’s the Nittany Lions that are looking to wrap up a spot in the Rose Bowl or in the National Championship Game. This year, the roles are at least slightly reversed, as it is Michigan State that knows it at least has a chance to make it to Pasadena with a ‘W’.

This is going to be a tough, tough test for the Spartans, and even though they are a 10-1 team, there is no doubt that they are the least respected one loss team in the major college football. There is virtually no hope to win the National Championship without just a ton of things going wrong in front of them, and they know that they need the Ohio State Buckeyes to lose to the Michigan Wolverines to win the Big Ten to go to the Rose Bowl. However, Step 1 is winning this game in Happy Valley, a place where Michigan State really hasn’t had a lot of luck in its history. Sophomore RB Edwin Baker really has become the featured back in this offense, as RB Le’Veon Bell has sort of fallen out of favor and isn’t getting nearly as many touches anymore. Baker reached the 1,000 yard barrier last week, as he has 1,069 yards and 12 scores on the campaign. Still, Michigan State would be nowhere without QB Kirk Cousins this year, as he has generated two tremendous comebacks to lead the Spartans to improbable victories. Cousins has 18 TDs and just nine picks on the season, and he is 447 yards shy of 3,000.

It’s been an interesting rebuilding season for HC Joe Paterno and his Nittany Lions, but we know that they are well on their way to some special things when the time comes that men like QB Matt McGloin get a tad older. McGloin took over as the team’s signal caller in place of freshman QB Robert Bolden, and he has flourished in the position since that point. McGloin has thrown for 1,025 yards and 11 scores against just three INTs. On the ground, this is the swan song for RB Evan Royster. We know that Royster was supposed to be a Heisman Trophy candidate this year and that he just hasn’t performed, but how can we complain about the all time leading rusher in Penn State history? Royster already has 3,749 yards on the ground in his career, and though he isn’t going to end up reaching the 4,000 yard mark in his time in Happy Valley, he can become one of the few backs in this program’s history to run for 1,000 yards three times in his career if he can muscle out 169 yards in this game and in PSU’s bowl game.

The Nittany Lions are getting better and better every single week, and we tend to think that they should be favored in this game. There is a reason that Michigan State is the lowest ranked one loss team in the nation from a major conference, and there’s a reason that the oddsmakers have just narrowly made them favorites.

NCAA Football Free Pick: Penn State Nittany Lions +1.5

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