Staff Predictions: No. 7 Penn State vs. Michigan State
Our sports staff is confident No. 7 Penn State (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten) caps off its unbeaten season in Beaver Stadium on Senior Day against Michigan State.
Joe Pickard: Penn State 31, Michigan State 17
Don’t let Michigan State’s record fool you, this game isn’t a guaranteed win for the Nittany Lions. The Spartans are peaking late in the season, and are hoping to play spoiler again this week after nearly knocking off Ohio State. Penn State knows what’s on the line this weekend with Big Ten Championship implications, as well as the coveted Land-Grant Trophy.
This team has played with heart all season long, and I expect that to be the same this Saturday as we thank another group of seniors that stuck with Penn State. This will be a nail-bitter for the Nittany Lion faithful in the first half, but Penn State will shine as a second-half team again to seal the win, covering the -13.5 point spread. Let’s go OSU, let’s go PSU, let’s go to Indy.
Anthony Colucci: Penn State 33, Michigan State 14
Michigan State is fresh off two strong games, including being a failed two-point conversion away from upsetting Ohio State, and is a deceptively strong 3-8. However, Penn State has been flying high over the last two months and James Franklin has kept his Lions focused throughout their winning streak. Regardless of what happens in Columbus tomorrow, Penn State has to win so I don’t think the Ohio State-Michigan result will be too much of a factor. Get ready for another first-half scare followed by a dominant second half. Hopefully, with some help, the Lions will have more than just a win to celebrate tomorrow night.
Robbie Rockwell: Penn State 27, Michigan State 21
I think this game will be a little bit too close for comfort but still think the Lions pull out an essential win on Senior Day. They will start slow like usual, but will also make major adjustments in the second half and relieving fans in the process. Michigan State will surely do all it can to stop Saquon Barkley from having a big day, so I think Trace McSorley steps up and puts the offensive points on the board with his arms and legs.
The Spartan attack is centered on talented running back LJ Scott, who had a big day against the Buckeyes last week. Brent Pry will focus on stopping him and making first-year starter Tyler O’Connor throw the ball. They may struggle at times but with fan support and dreams of the Big Ten title game, I believe Franklin and the Lions get the job done.
Mitch Stewart: Penn State 27, Michigan State 17
Senior Day, Big Ten Championship implications, and a healthy rivalry game against an underestimated Spartan team will keep the score in this one tighter than many would hope or expect. Mark Dantonio’s bunch competed with Michigan for most of the game and were a two-point conversion away from knocking off the Buckeyes in the snow last weekend.
The Spartans are led by two underrated players on offense in quarterback Tyler O’Conner and tailback LJ Scott, and the tandem could make enough plays to force the hand of the Nittany Lion offense a little bit. Luckily, the Penn State offense has been up to the task and then some all year long. With some help from our buddy Urban Meyer (thanks again for unnecessarily rushing out your kicker), we could be booking some trips to Indy next week.
Ethan Kasales: Penn State 34, Michigan State 17
With so much on the line for the Nittany Lions on Senior Day, Michigan State will obviously wanna play spoiler. But just like in 2008, when then-No. 8 Penn State clinched its third trip to the Rose Bowl thanks to a 49-18 win over the Spartans, I expect James Franklin’s bunch to rise to the occasion. It could be close at the half, as the second quarter is the only one in which the Nittany Lions trail their opponents (101-88) this season.
The second half has been a different story, though, with Penn State owning a 239-102 advantage. I think the Nittany Lions make enough plays down the stretch on defense to capture their eighth straight win and first over Michigan State since ’08.