Michigan State Spartans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions – College Football Betting Preview

Jose VasquezArticles, College Football, Football

In a matchup that showcases two teams ranked in the Top 20 nationally, the No. 8 Penn State Nittany Lions (-13) are set to welcome their in-conference foe No. 20 Michigan State Spartans at Beaver Stadium. Interested parties are able to catch the action live on BTN and this key daytime matchup is scheduled to get underway at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Betting Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan State Spartans

In this Saturday Big Ten game, Penn State has been labeled as the big favorite and the team’s currently giving up 13 points. The Spartans are also receiving +375 moneyline odds while the Nittany Lions are -550. Some decent in-game betting opportunities should present themselves during the matchup.

The public has been siding with the Spartans, as the line opened at -15.

The underwhelming Spartans are down 5.3 units so far in 2018 and 1-4 against the spread (ATS). The team has posted an O/U record of 4-1.

The Nittany Lions have gained 0.0 units for moneyline bettors this season. They’re 4-1 ATS and also own an O/U record of 4-1.

The Spartans have gone 3-2 straight up (SU), including 1-1 SU against conference opponents. The Nittany Lions are 4-1 SU overall and 1-1 SU in conference play.

The Spartans are looking to bounce back after a 29-19 defeat to Northwestern last week where Brian Lewerke completed 31 passes for 329 yards, along with a score and a pick. Connor Heyward (seven receptions, 30 yards) and Felton Davis III (seven catches, 96 yards, one TD) handled the receiving duties.

Penn State narrowly dropped a 27-26 game to Ohio State two weeks ago. The team’s defense allowed the Buckeyes to kill the clock by rushing for 119 yards on 37 attempts, along with one rushing TD. J.K. Dobbins had a productive outing, recording 57 rushing yards and a score on 17 attempts, along with 61 yards on two catches for Ohio State. For Penn State, Trace McSorley completed 16-of-32 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. McSorley (175 yards on 25 rush attempts) and Miles Sanders (43 yards on 16 carries, one TD) spearheaded the ground game in the defeat as Juwan Johnson (five receptions, 61 yards) and KJ Hamler (four catches, 138 yards, one TD) led the pass-catching corps.

Michigan State’s run the ball on 50.7 percent of its offensive plays this year, including 45.1 percent across possessions in conference play. Penn State has a run percentage of 60.3 percent, and has rushed the ball 64.6 percent of the time against Big 10 opponents. The Spartans have rushed for 123.0 yards per game (including 113.5 per game versus Big Ten opponents) and have nine scores via handoffs this year. The Nittany Lions are logging 261.2 rushing yards per game (296.5 in conference) and have 21 total rush TDs.

The Spartans offense has averaged 266.8 yards through the air overall (274.0 per game against conference opposition) and has six passing scores so far. The Nittany Lions have recorded 248.8 pass yards per game (245 in the Big 10) and have 12 total pass TDs.

Defensively, Michigan State has allowed opponents to rush for an average of 33.8 yards and pass for 305.2 yards per game. The Penn State defense has allowed 192.6 yards per game to opposing passers and 161.8 yards per game on the ground. The Nittany Lions are allowing an adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) of only 4.32 to opposing QBs, while the Spartans have given up a 5.17 ANY/A.

Offensively, Lewerke has put up 1,143 passing yards on the year, and has completed 95-of-148 attempts with six scores through the air and five interceptions. Lewerke has a 6.02 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, including 5.44 over the last two outings.

Felton Davis III (50 rushing yards, one rush TD, 308 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns this season), Connor Heyward (99 rush yards, two rush TDs, 89 receiving yards) and Brandon Sowards (87 receiving yards) have all played significant roles of late.

In the other huddle, Trace McSorley has connected on 61-of-119 passes for 889 yards, seven TDs and one INT. McSorley’s ANY/A sits at 7.48 for the season and 8.59 over his past two outings.

We also expect the Penn State offense to spread things out this Saturday. Trace McSorley (318 rushing yards, six rush TDs, zero receiving yards on the year), Miles Sanders (338 rush yards, three rush TDs) and KJ Hamler (267 receiving yards, three receiving TDs) have combined for 691 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns the last two games.

These two squads met a year ago with the final outcome being a 27-24 win for Michigan State.

Michigan State Spartans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Free Pick

SU Winner: Penn State, ATS Winner: Penn State

Team Betting Notes

  • The Penn State offense has lost four fumbles this season while Michigan State has let three get away.
  • The Penn State defense has registered 16 sacks on the year while Michigan State has 12.
  • Michigan State, as a team, has averaged 3.48648648648649 yards per rush attempt over its past three contests and 3.6 over its last two.
  • Penn State has averaged 6.4 yards per carry over its last three games and 6.2 over its last two.
  • In its last three contests, Penn State is 3-0 ATS and the over cashed in two of those three.
  • Michigan State was favored by 11 points in its last game and the Over/Under was set at 44. The over cashed and Michigan State failed to cover in the 29-19 defeat to Northwestern.
  • In its last three games, Michigan State is 1-2 ATS and the over cashed in each of those three.
  • Penn State was the underdog by 4 points in its previous game and the Over/Under going into it was 69.5. The under cashed and Penn State covered in the team’s 27-26 defeat to Ohio State.