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TOC Staff Picks: Penn State vs. Michigan State

The Spartans have an opportunity to reach double-digit wins in Mel Tucker’s second season.

Syndication: USA TODAY Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Despite being a top-12 team, Michigan State still enters Saturday’s contest against Penn State as an underdog.

As of right now, the Nittany Lions are about two-point favorites over the Spartans. An intriguing storyline to follow for both teams will be who plays. Both teams have suffered a wealth of injuries over the last few weeks and getting key players to suit up could make the difference.

Michigan State has the opportunity to reach double-digit wins in Mel Tucker’s second year. Do our writers think the Spartans will pull this one out?

Ryan O’Bleness

Michigan State 27, Penn State 23

Penn State has a really good defense, but inefficient offense. Yes, Sean Clifford is expected to play, and yes Penn State has a good passing attack, but the Nittany Lions struggle to run the ball and I expect the Spartans to have a much better performance defensively this week, despite all of the injuries. Michigan State gets to 10 wins, takes back the Land Grant Trophy and makes its case for a New Year’s Six bowl.

Kevin Knight

Michigan State 31, Penn State 24

Next man up, folks. The Spartans cannot lose to a team that lost to Illinois this season. That is almost as bad as losing to a Scott Frost coached Nebraska team (who also lost to Illinois). Jesting aside, Michigan State needs to right the ship in this rivalry after letting Penn State tie it up last year. I hope senior day and the greatest abomination of a trophy in college sports, the PEW PEW LAZERZ Land Grant Trophy, motivates this time to victory and a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Paul Fanson

Penn State 28, Michigan State 21

This game might be the hardest one to handicap all season. The Vegas line and most other metrics say that this game is a toss-up, but my computer is calling for a surprisingly comfortable win by the visiting Nittany Lions.In reality, the health of each roster is very much in question, so we really don’t even know who is going to be on the field for each team.

At full strength, Penn State is one-dimensional on offense, but that dimension (passing) is exactly what MSU struggles to defend. Michigan State’s offense is more balanced and explosive, but Penn State’s defense is quite good. The weather is predicted to be cold, which may favor the better running team (MSU). At the end of the day, I will simply stay with my computer’s pick, which I do not like, especially with the stakes as high as they are.

Zach Manning

Penn State 23, Michigan State 17

I don’t think MSU has enough bodies left to pull off a win in this game. I don’t know how many people will be missing, but the Spartans could be missing their top two receivers and multiple others on defense.

That doesn’t sound like a recipe for success. Still, I think MSU hangs tough and keeps it within one score. Penn State does just enough to win this game.

Matt Sheehan

Penn State 27, Michigan State 17

It’s come to the point where MSU is way too injured all over the board and I don’t know if PAyton Thorne connects with his essentially new receiver corps. I would love to be wrong.

Matt Hoeppner

Michigan State 24, Penn State 21

The Spartans somehow, someway find enough to get it done at home against Penn State and get their 10th win of the season and set themselves up for a major bowl berth.


Michigan State 27, Penn State 24

Position groups are being put to the test, the cornerbacks, wide receivers and offensive line are all in flux due to attrition. Both teams want to finish the regular season strong, but Michigan State has a little more at risk — a win and the Spartans likely get a New Year’s Six bowl, a loss and they could slide to the Outback Bowl. I think MSU will try to work a little more with the rushing attacking, that said, PSU has a top tier defense. This is a bit of a homer pick, I’m hoping for the best.

David Harns

Penn State 33, Michigan State 25

Throughout the year, several members of TOC will participate in Big Ten picks using Tallysight. You can keep up with those picks here: