The #8 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1) host the Michigan State Spartans (3-2) on Saturday afternoon in a pivotal Big 10 matchup. Kickoff is set for 4:00 PM EST at Beaver Stadium and the game will be available on the Big Ten Network.
Taking a look at the Week 7 college football odds, Penn State opened as a 13.5-point home favorite earlier this week. That line has remained unchanged after early betting, as the Nittany Lions are currently listed at -13.5. The total for the game is sitting at 54 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Penn State vs Michigan State
Michigan State fell to 3-2 on the season last weekend after a disappointing 29-16 loss at home to Northwestern. The Spartans had a five point lead late in the 3rd quarter but couldn’t hold on, allowing the Wildcats to score 15 straight points and pull off the comeback victory. QB Brian Lewerke was average at best against Northwestern, throwing for 329 yards and a touchdown while also getting picked off once. Lewerke has now thrown at least one interception in all five games this year, which has dropped his QBR to an alarming 59.2 after posting a solid 77.7 rating in his freshman year. WR Felton Davis III was a human highlight reel against the Wildcats, hauling in seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown while also adding a rushing touchdown on a fantastic double reverse. It ended up being his biggest play of the game, as he found the end zone after scampering almost 50 yards. Overall, the Spartans are currently averaging 27.2 points per game on 389.8 total yards of offense.
On the other side of the ball, Michigan State has been pretty average defensively all year long. The Spartans are currently giving up an average of 23.4 points per game (41st) on 339 yards of total offense. It is worth breaking down the defense, as they have been incredible against the run and absolutely dreadful against the pass. Opponents are averaging a ridiculous 305.2 yards per game through the air (122nd overall). Their play against the rush has been much better, as Michigan State is limiting opponents to an average of just 33.8 rushing yards per game (1st overall).
Penn State lost their first game of the season their last time out after a heartbreaking last second defeat to Ohio State the last week of September. The Nittany Lions blew a 12-point lead in the 4th quarter to fall 27-26 to the Buckeyes in dramatic fashion. It was definitely the first real test of the season for Penn State, as they had been winning games by an average of 45+ points over the first four weeks. QB Trace McSorley completed just 50% of his passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. However, McSorley had a huge game on the ground, rushing for a career high 175 yards to give Penn State a legitimate shot at pulling off the upset and moving into the Top 5 overall. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Nittany Lions are an offensive juggernaut, as they are currently averaging a ridiculous 49.6 points per game (4th) on 510 yards of total offense per game.
The Nittany Lions have been fairly strong defensively, limiting opponents to an average of just 21.0 points per game (34th overall) on 354.4 total yards.
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Penn State -13.5
Both of these teams are coming off of extremely demoralizing losses. The difference for me is the way in which each team lost, as Penn State could have easily won their last game and stayed unbeaten. Michigan State, on the other hand, got beat by double-digits at home against an inferior opponent. Their offense is sluggish and extremely inconsistent, and I really don’t see how it has any hope of keeping pace with a Nittany Lions attack that is averaging a whopping 50 points per game.
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Penn State is a very impressive 6-3 ATS over their last 9 meetings with the Badgers when playing at home. They are also 12-3-2 ATS over their past 17 home games, 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 conference games, and 21-5-2 ATS over their last 28 games overall. Wisconsin is just 3-7 ATS over their last 10 games in October and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 road games. The Badgers are also only 1-4 ATS over their last five games overall.
Michigan State may be able to slow down Penn State on the ground, as they currently have the top ranked rushing defense in the entire country. The Nittany Lions are averaging over 260 rushing yards per game though, so it will be interesting to see how the Spartans fare against a top-ranked rushing attack. In any event, McSorley and Co. should have no issues moving the ball through the air, as Michigan State has been one of the worst teams nationwide against the pass. While almost two touchdowns might seem like a pretty steep line, I still think the best value in this particular spot is with the home favorite. I’ll lay the points and take Penn State to cover.