Howdy gang, sorry to be getting a late jump on this on a fine afternoon.
Hope everyone either a) is rain-ready for Spartan Stadium tomorrow or b) has a great, warm and dry place to watch at.
Let’s skip the shenanigans and dive right into it.
3 THINGS WE WANT TO SEE
A complete game
After its second blowout loss in two weeks there were a few – not a lot, just a few – takes of the “this team is quitting” ilk. I had a hard time listening to those and an even hard time believing them. Now if this team slogs its way to another blowout loss where the defense gives up 30-plus points again…I’ll at least be listening. And you could almost understand why they would – the offense has been a non-factor the better part of two years and you’re constantly tasked with keeping those games close single-handedly.
ANYWAY, I think the bye week came at a great time to regroup and send a “you’re either all-in or all-out” message to the team, which could explain some of the transfers. I think they comeback refreshed and ready to roll to make this a competitive game against a Penn State game coming off of back-to-back high profile night games. This game is the last chance to turn around the season in the right direction. If it’s another lifeless blowout…we’ll talk about it on Sunday.
Not kicking to KJ Hamler
But we all know they’ll do it anyway. In 2017 when Western Michigan came to down and brought Darius Phillips with them, it gave MSU two options: 1) kick to one of the best returners in the nation, or 2) don’t kick to him. They chose option one, for some reason that can only be explained by stubbornness, and got burnt for a touchdown. Luckily, it didn’t matter in the game. Unluckily, it could very much so matter in the game on Saturday. A top ten Penn State team doesn’t need any more help than they’re already getting.
Drag, drag, drag routes
Watching Penn State meltdown let Michigan get back into the game last Saturday came thanks to a few drag routes here and a few there. If Lewerke can get Darrell Stewart north of double-digit touches, that will help. Those are easier throws to make it the what-could-be bad weather and I’m starting to get a tad worried about our run game. Get balls to the playmakers in space. Seems easy, doesn’t it? We’ll see just how easy that is some 3:30 p.m.
2 KEYS STATS
That’s yards per carry coming from Penn State, which ranks right in the middle of the nation. For the first time in three weeks, the Spartan defense isn’t facing a legitimately elite running game. Quarterback Sean Clifford leads the Nittany Lions in carries with 70 on the season at a 3.8 yards per carry clip, and behind him is two strong running backs. Noah Cain gets the slight bulk of the carries with 62 attempts for 5.3 yards per carry, and Journey Brown is behind him with 39 carries good for 6.5 yards per carry. So, is Penn State as dangerous on the ground as Ohio State or Wisconsin? Not really…but do they have weapons that could indeed bust a big run? You bet.
That’s not a fun number for MSU fans as 29.2 is the stuff rate for Penn State’s defensive line. That means 29.2 percent of runs Penn State faces are stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage, which is good for third in the nation. For comparison, Ohio State ranks as No. 1 and Wisconsin in No. 11 – those games didn’t go so swell for the Spartans. So yeah…a rainy game that forces the run might not be as welcomes as it usually is.
1 BEST BET
Penn State -6.5, over/under 44
I think Penn State will lose by double-digits…which makes that line a little too smelly for me to take. If something in Vegas stinks out loud, you stay away from it.
So I find myself enjoying the over/under here. I’ve seen the forecast. I’ve seen the defenses. I’ve seen MSU’s offense. Nothing about that tells me we will see both teams go north of 20 points.
Pick: Smashing that under 44
Record: 4-3 (thanks for nothing, Penn State defense)