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3-2-1 Preview: 3 Key Stats, 2 Things We Want To See and 1 Best Bet for Penn State versus Michigan State

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Do the Spartans have enough to take down Penn State?

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last week went so horrible that we have to change up the mojo somehow for this wee’s matchup between Penn State and Michigan State.

So, for the second time this season, we are flipping the categories and doing three key stats and just two things we want to see. Followed with a best bet portion that has been going AWFUL so far this year.

LET’S GO.

15.5

That’s Penn State’s opponent scoring average, which is best in the conference and third best in the whole country.

Yes, Penn State by all accounts has had an OK season so far. It has beaten the teams it is supposed to (well, minus the whole Illinois thing) and has lost some close battles with the solid teams.

The Nittany Lion rush defense has been just OK this season, giving up 3.4 yards per carry. However, it’s their pass defense anchored by safeties Jaquan Brisker and Ji’Ayir Brown that makes Penn State what it is.

Any way you slice it, it’ll be a tough day for the offense that could be missing its two biggest weapons in the passing game in Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor. A lot will fall on Kenneth Walker III, who is also dinged up, but we’ve seen him have his way with top defenses before.

95.0

That’s Jahan Dotson’s yards per game if you’re wondering who the next wide receiver up to rain down hellfire on the MSU secondary is.

Dotson is not physically imposing as he stands at 5-foot-10, but his speed and hands are amongst the best in the nation.

As a whole, Penn State’s pass offense isn’t anything world-shattering, but at this point, we know you don’t have to be an elite passing offense to put up insane numbers against the Spartans.

(INSERT PENN STATE OFFENSIVE LINE STAT HERE)

We’ve had some fun with these kind of stats in the past, so let’s keep it rolling. Here is where the Penn State offensive line ranks in a few fun categories...

  • Opportunity Rate (runs that go for at least four yards): 43.4 percent, 107th best in the nation
  • Power Success Rate (percentage of first downs picked up when its third or fourth down and two or less yards to go): 54.2 percent, 121st in the nation
  • Stuff Rate (runs that get stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage) 21.7 percent, 111th in the nation

What I’m trying to say is that, yes, the Penn State run game struggles. So that’s fun for Michigan State.

2 THINGS WE WANT TO SEE

A QUICK TURNAROUND BY PAYTON THORNE

I am reluctant on calling this Payton Thorne’s biggest game of the year, but it is certainly up there. I will, however, certainly call it his biggest challenge of the year as he may be without his top two receivers when the Spartans go up against this stellar defense.

Last week was not a sterling example of what Thorne is capable of — he looked shook from the get go and hardly seemed to settle down. Now he will be faced with throwing to his backup receivers aside from Tre Mosley and Tyler Hunt. Thorne — for good reason — has used Reed in go-to situations and now it looks like he will not be around to use as a security blanket if Reed is indeed out.

Can he go from that shaky outing against Ohio State in Columbus to a solid performance with a largely new corps of receivers in short amount of time? With a banged up Kenneth Walker III? He might have to for MSU to have a shot a victory.

A GOOD SHOWING FROM SPARTAN NATION

If you have nothing going on, please try to get to this game. This team did not start 9-2 and take us on a Heisman ride to play in front of 16 people in the season finale. And these seniors have been through a hell of a stretch of years with this program. Let’s send them off the right way.

Tickets are very, very reasonable on StubHub. Yes, it will be cold, SO BUNDLE UP AND BRING SOME HOT CHOCOLATE MONEY. DRINK A BUNCH OF FIREBALL BEFOREHAND. SNEAK SOME INTO THE STADIUM FOR ALL I CARE.

1 BEST BET

MSU +2, over/under 52

And this will almost conclude my worst year BY FAR in the “best bets” portion. And, you know what? I hope I’m wrong on this pick, because I am taking the Nittany Lions.

Michigan State had a great season, but there are so many injuries that it’s simply not the same team it was on Oct. 30. A handful of injuries, fine, move on, but there is not enough depth to power through the sheer amount of injuries MSU has gone through the last four weeks.

Pick: Penn State -2

Record: I don’t want to talk about it (it’s 3-7-1)