Both teams are fresh off of losses, but their defeats came in very different fashions. Michigan State was whooped at home against Northwestern, while the Nittany Lions suffered a devastating last-second defeat after giving up a 12-point fourth quarter lead against Big 10-rival Ohio State two weeks ago.
Lewerke struggling in second year as full-time starter
The Spartans actually led 19-14 late in the third quarter but they surrendered 15 straight unanswered points to close out their disappointing 29-19 defeat against the BIG 10-rival Wildcats. Michigan State’s offense sputtered for the second straight week and quarterback Brian Lewerke appears to have fallen victim to the infamous sophomore slump. The second-year starter completed 31 of his 51 pass attempts last week for 329 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Felton Davis III was the star of the show last week, catching seven balls for 96 yards and a touchdown, while also adding two carries for 50 yards and a score in a losing effort.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 6, 2018
Lewerke has thrown an interception in all five of Michigan State’s games to open the season and now has six picks this year after throwing seven during his stellar 2017 campaign. He’s thrown for 1,328 yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions through five games. His adjusted QBR is down to 59.2 this year after posting a 77.7 mark last season.
Michigan State enters the week scoring 27.2 points per game while averaging 389.8 yards of total offense per game, but they’ve had problems getting stops on the defensive side of the ball. Opposing teams are averaging 23.4 points per game against MSU’s defense while piling up 339 yards of total offense per game.
McSorley plays well in loss to OSU
The Nittany Lions will look to rebound from their first loss of the season after falling 27-26 in a nailbiter versus No. 4-ranked Ohio State last week. The game marked Penn State’s first real test of the season, as they had won their last three games by an average of 45.7 points per game. Trace McSorley completed just 16 of his 32 pass attempts for 286 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding a career-high 175 rush yards in a losing effort. Miles Sanders ran for 43 yards and a touchdown, but had a crucial fumble late in the first half that effectively turned the tide of the game. K.J Hamler led the team in receiving, hailing in four passes for 138 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown. However, missed tackles on defense proved to be the difference on OSU’s final two scoring drives — which went for 75 yards and 96 yards in 1:18 and 2:32, respectively.
Looking back at Penn State vs Ohio State. Damon Arnette has inside leverage and is in good position over the top, so McSorley delivers a beauty of a back-shoulder where only the 6'4" Juwan Johnson can reach it. And man, what a catch. pic.twitter.com/4ChM9BuAxe
— Fed Scivittaro (@MeshPointScout) October 3, 2018
McSorley comes into the week with 1,050 pass yards for the season to go along with 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Sanders leads the team in rushing with 538 yards and six touchdowns, but nearly half of his total output came in a 200-yard, three-TD performance two weeks ago versus Illinois.
Penn State is averaging a whopping 49.6 points per game this season while allowing 21 on the other side of the ball. Led by McSorley, the team is averaging 510 yards of total offense per game, including 261 yards per game on the ground.
- Nittany Lions are 1-10-2 ATS in their last 13 games following a straight up loss.
- Over is 15-3-1 in the last 19 meetings.
- Over is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings in Penn State.
- Spartans are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS loss.
- Spartans are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
- Over is 6-1 in Spartans last 7 games overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Most bettors probably lost some confidence in Michigan State last week after they were throttled at home against a banged up Northwestern team. However, that was a trap game for the Spartans and I expect them to bounce back this week against a Penn State team due for a letdown after giving all they had in a nail-biting defeat against Ohio State. The bye didn’t help them get over that loss. Take the Spartans to cover the spread on the road in Happy Valley on Saturday night.
Prediction: Pick: Michigan State +14.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Expect this game to feature a ton of passing. Lewerke threw 51 times last week and he’s thrown at least 33 times in three of his five games this year. Meanwhile, Michigan State has been one of the most dominant run defenses in all of college football this season. Opposing teams have mustered only 33.8 rush yards per game versus the Spartans defense, so expect the Nittany Lions to rely on the arm of McSorley here. Take the over in this Big 10 battle in Penn State on Saturday night.
Half-Time Side Pick
Penn State hasn’t really faced tough competition so far this season. Outside of their loss to Ohio State, their best win came against a now 3-3 Pittsburgh team. Michigan State will be hungry for a quality win as well after a disappointing showing last week against Northwestern, so I expect this to be a closely-contested battle. Look for the Spartans to cover the first half spread on the road in Happy Valley on Saturday.
Prediction: Michigan State +7
Half-Time Total Bet
Lewerke has amassed 173 pass attempts through the Spartans first five games of the season. The Nittany Lions defense allowed 270 yards and three touchdowns through the air against Ohio State, including two long touchdown drives in the final seven minutes of the game. On the other hand, Michigan State hasn’t looked very good defensively so far this season. so you have to feel good about this game going over the first half total on Saturday.
Prediction: Over 27