Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. No. 12 Michigan State

Penn State football (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) closes out its regular season against No. 12 Michigan State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) on Saturday, November 27, in East Lansing.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a 28-0 shutout victory over Rutgers in their home finale. The Spartans, on the other hand, got destroyed by Ohio State 56-7 last week.

Our staff has mixed feelings about who will take home the precious Land-Grant Trophy.

Charles Reinert (8-2): Michigan State 24, Penn State 17

I just don’t think the Nittany Lions have it in them to beat the Spartans at this point in the season. Penn State will fight to the end, but Sparty and their rushing attack will prove to be too much after Michigan State was embarrassed last week by the Buckeyes. I expect the Spartans to be ready from the first snap and for them to play angry.

Nolan Wick (6-3): Michigan State 14, Penn State 10

Michigan State is currently banged up, including an injury to Heisman candidate Kenneth Walker III. However, I don’t trust Penn State’s offense to be consistent enough to win this game. With both offenses limited right now, this shouldn’t be a high-scoring game at all. It could easily go the other way, but I’m predicting the Spartans to narrowly win at home. 

Mikey DeAngelis (7-2): Penn State 24, Michigan State 20

Penn State has played multiple ranked opponents close in games this season, and in this rivalry game, for the final game of the season, I think that it’ll finally be able to pull off the upset. While they’re the odds favorite, I think many people expect the Spartans to win, but I have faith in the Nittany Lions coming off of a win against Rutgers. 

Sam Fremin (4-2): Penn State 23, Michigan State 16

This may be optimistic on behalf of the Nittany Lions, but while Michigan State scores a lot of points (except against Ohio State), it also allows a lot. Heisman candidate for the Spartans, Kenneth Walker, is not at 100%, and Penn State’s defense is still a top-tier group. With Clifford likely recovered, expect Penn State to play spoiler in a closer game than the teams’ records might otherwise indicate.

Gabe Angieri (7-4): Penn State 20, Michigan State 13

Penn State is going to end the regular season on a two-game winning streak and finish with an 8-4 record, setting it up for a solid bowl game.

A healthy Sean Clifford will finish strong, throwing for over 300 yards and tossing three touchdowns. Parker Washington will continue his hot finish to the season with two of those touchdown grabs. Jahan Dotson will also catch a touchdown in his final regular-season game as a Nittany Lion.

Facing a banged-up Kenneth Walker III, Penn State’s defense shouldn’t have a problem containing the Spartans’ offense. Ji’Ayir Brown will intercept a pass, and Arnold Ebiketie will have two sacks and force a fumble.

The Land-Grant Trophy is coming home to Happy Valley, folks.

Will Pegler (9-2): Michigan State 30, Penn State 24

James Franklin’s team has played to its competition all year. That’s not going to change on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions will keep up with the Spartans and make this an extremely entertaining battle — I don’t have any doubts about that. However, Penn State hasn’t made the big plays it’s needed for much of this season, and that will hold it back against Michigan State in East Lansing.

Similar to the Michigan game, the Nittany Lions will have a chance to win this one. But they’re just not going to have enough to pull off a game-winning drive, and that’ll cap off a 7-5 season.

Ryan Parsons (9-2): Michigan State 24, Penn State 14

I could easily see Penn State winning this game, but I’m not so sure it’s going to happen. The Spartans have what is probably the worst pass defense the Nittany Lions have seen all season, but I don’t know if Sean Clifford & Co. have the “it” factor to take advantage of that.

If Kenneth Walker III is still banged up, I could see Penn State’s defense keeping it in the game for a long time, but defense alone hasn’t won games for the Nittany Lions all year. Expect Sparty to take lots of guys out of the box and force Penn State to either win on the ground or make big plays through the air, which it can’t and won’t.

Matt DiSanto (7-4): Penn State 26, Michigan State 23

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