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Get To Know The Opponent: Penn State

NCAA Football: Maryland at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Michigan State Spartans hit the road to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions this Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern Time on FS1. Let’s get to know more about Penn State.

Get to Know Penn State

School: Penn State University

Nickname: Nittany Lions

Location: State College, Pennsylvania

Head Coach: James Franklin (ninth season at Penn State, 76-36 at PSU, 100-51 overall)

Series History: Michigan State leads the series against Penn State 18-17-1. The Spartans won the last matchup against the Nittany Lions in East Lansing last season, 30-27.

The Spartans and Nittany Lions will meet at Beaver Stadium in the battle for the Land-Grant Trophy, in the last regular season game of 2022.

Last season at this time, both teams were in different spots. The Spartans were 9-2 competing for a New Years Six bowl spot and the Nittany Lions had lost four of six going into the Week 13 matchup against the Spartans last year. This season, it’s the same scenario but flipped. Penn State is the team that’s competing to enter the New Year’s Six sweepstakes, while the struggling Spartans are fighting to be bowl eligible.

The Nittany Lions have two losses this season and both of those are against top-three teams in Michigan and Ohio State. James Franklin and company have taken care of lesser opponents this season — Penn State ais outscoring opponents 347-115 in nine wins this season. Offensively, the Nittany Lions are led by star freshman running back Nicholas Singleton. In order for the Spartans to have a chance at bowl eligibility, they must limit Singleton in the rushing game which is something that Michigan State had trouble with last week against the Indiana Hoosiers at Spartan Stadium.

Players To Watch

Nicholas Singleton

The focal point of the Penn State offense is the running game, and that’s led by star true freshman running back Nicholas Singleton. Singleton has rushed for 863 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season with an average of 6.5 yards per carry. Singleton possesses a rare power and speed combo that’ll make him a long time NFL player.

As you can see in these clips above, Singleton is an absolute handful to game-plan against and can still sting you all day long. His backfield partner, Kaytron Allen, is another strong tailback. Allen has 732 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

Joey Porter Jr.

The best player on the Penn State defense and almost a lock to be a first-round pick, Joey Porter Jr. is an absolute freak at the cornerback position. Porter is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds with freakishly long arms, making it very hard to create any separation against him.

The potential matchup between Porter versus Keon Coleman is one that NFL scouts will marvel over and will likely decide whether the Spartans are competitive in this one.


With bowl eligibility on the line, it will be interesting to see how Michigan State responds to the heartbreaking double overtime loss to Indiana last week. If Coach Mel Tucker cannot get his guys to focus on this one, it’ll be a long and ugly day for the Spartans against a tough Penn State team.