Penn State-Michigan State prediction: Can the Nittany Lions bounce back after Ohio State loss?
The Lions return to action against Michigan State after a bye week. The Spartans are the No. 1-ranked rush defense in the nation but have struggled in other areas.
The Nittany Lions had their bye last week, which gave them some extra time to have the Ohio State loss continue to gnaw at them. The Spartans, however, also are coming into this game with something to prove after their somewhat surprising 29-19 loss last week at home to Northwestern.
The contest's key matchup is the Lions' rush offense versus the Spartans' rush defense. Penn State has gained at least 200 yards on the ground in every game this season and is second in the Big Ten in that department. Michigan State, however, leads the nation in defending the rush, allowing just 33.8 yards per game.
However, the Spartans have been lacking in two important areas. They have allowed 305 yards through the air (122nd in FBS) and opponents have completed 64.5 percent of their passes against them. They also have the Big Ten's second-worst running attack (123.0 yards per game). Top rusher L.J. Scott has missed the last three games with an ankle injury and is a game-time decision. Brian Lewerke is one of the better quarterbacks in the Big Ten but the Spartans are pretty much one-dimensional without Scott.
The Lions' sputtering passing game could see some success but their running game has been successful and they'd like to stick to that. They are 60-40 run-pass on offense this season.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio appeared confident at his news conference this week that his team will find a way to challenge the Lions despite having suffered their share of injuries. We think Penn State will bounce back effectively and control the game.
Call it Nittany Lions 42, Spartans 24.