Happy Thanksgiving! If you are reading this and still care deeply enough about the Michigan State football season to read a preview, I’ve got news for you...
You are the best Spartan fan out there. A sick person, yes. But also the best Spartan fan this program could ask for.
Let’s get into the Happy Valley bonanza.
3 KEY STATS
That’s Penn State’s opponent completion percentage, which is good for second-best in the Big Ten (behind Illinois) and fourth in the nation overall.
Penn State’s secondary has been good all season, and the players in the defensive backfield have held their opponents to under 50 percent completion the last two games. Granted, those games were against Rutgers and Maryland, but still.
Usually Michigan State’s brightest glimmer of hope going into Saturdays are to use wide receivers Jayden Reed and Keon Coleman against inferior secondaries, but that’s a mighty tall task this weekend.
That’s Penn State’s opponents’ yards per carry, which is good for fifth-best in the Big Ten but STILL top-20 in the nation.
Running back Jalen Berger has had a great three-game stretch as he’s totaled over 100 all-purpose yards in each of the last three
wins games MSU was in great position to win. This will be another good test against a tough defensive front to give us maybe a glimmer of hope going into next season that the run game can be a bright spot.
We are, unfortunately, not done talking about the Penn State defense. That 33-mark is the amount of sacks the Nittany Lions have racked up, which is 10th-best in the nation and the very best in the Big Ten.
It’s a tough passing defense that also stops the run and, oh yeah, they’re also pretty good at getting to the quarterback. Great.
On a side note, new starting left tackle Brandon Baldwin has been a bright spot this month ever since he’s taken over for an injured Jarrett Horst, and this will be the biggest challenge to date. If he has a moderately good game, it’s another item to pin on the “Reasons To Maybe Be Optimistic In 2023” bulletin board.
2 THINGS WE WANT TO SEE
Tackling. Please tackle better. Do the thing where you tackle.
Career games from Rutgers running back Kyle Monangai and Indiana running back Sean Shivers were made possible due to tackling — or lack thereof.
Unluckily for Michigan State, Penn State has two running backs that could one day be Heisman candidates in freshmen Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Both backs are averaging over 5.5 yards per carry and have tackle-breaking power to begin with, so it’s a tall task to bring them down on first contact, but it will be crucial for this game.
And with MSU going a fourth-straight week of practice with no contact due to lack of bodies/low depth, it will really be a difficult task.
Big Game James Franklin
Big games are where Penn State head coach James Franklin shines his brightest in being completely inept. Pretty much any Ohio State game. Any Michigan game. And now that his team is approaching a 10th win to lock up a New Year’s Six bowl? I don’t know, maybe this reaches “big game” status and we see another string of odd in-game decisions that trip up the Nittany Lions.
Here’s for Penn State’s head coach making worse decisions than MSU’s coach. Cheers, gang.
1 BEST BET
MSU +18.5, over/under 52
Penn State might rush for 650 yards this game.
Just give me the over.
Pick: Over 52