Skip to main content

Staff Predictions: Michigan State at No. 11 Penn State

The Spartans have one final shot at securing bowl eligibility today against the Nittany Lions...

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the finale week of the 2022 college football regular season.

This has been a tough year for Michigan State (5-6 overall, 3-5 Big Ten), which suffered a major setback last week when they blew a 17-point halftime lead in a 39-31 double-overtime defeat against Indiana.

After that result, the Spartans are still one win away from securing bowl eligibility, and the task will be much stiffer this week on the road at No. 11 Penn State (9-2, 6-2). The Nittany Lions’ two losses this season have come against No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan.

Saturday will mark the 37th meeting all-time between Michigan State and Penn State. The first meeting between the schools came way back in 1914, which resulted in a 6-3 victory for Michigan Agricultural College. From 1914 to 1966, the Spartans went 8-1-1 in 10 meetings against the Nittany Lions.

The “rivalry” didn’t truly begin until Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993. With both schools being land-grant universities, the conference designated the two programs as permanent “rivals” who would play in the final game of the regular season each year for the right to take home the “Land-Grant Trophy”.

Since the introduction of the trophy, the Nittany Lions have gone 16-10 against the Spartans. However, the series has been split 3-3 over the last six meetings. Michigan State is a 19-point underdog this weekend.

With the history lesson out of the way, Spartan Nation senior writer Matthew Lounsberry and contributor Aedan Mulcrone share their thoughts on the game below with 3 Bold Predictions, Game Previews, and Final Score Predictions.

Matt’s 3 Bold Predictions

1.) Keon Coleman scores a touchdown

Coleman has been arguably Michigan State’s best offensive player this season, and the Spartans will need their best players to step up in a big way to be competitive in this one. I’m not going to get into how many yards or targets the sophomore will get, but quarterback Payton Thorne should look to throw the ball his way as often as possible.

2.) Michigan State makes a field goal

The fact that I can label this a “bold prediction” speaks to how bad the kicking game has been for MSU this season. Auburn transfer Ben Patton missed a 23-yarder that would have won the game for the Spartans last week, and had another kick blocked in overtime. Those were just the latest blunders for Michigan State in the kicking game.

With that being said, I’ll call for at least one field goal for the Spartans this week, though I don’t know if it will be Patton out there on kicks or true freshman Jack Stone.

3.) Michigan State’s defense forces one turnover

The Spartans were one of the best teams in the country in forcing fumbles midway through the year, but that has fallen off since MSU had eight defensive players suspended following the Michigan game.

Michigan State has forced 14 fumbles this season, and has 10 fumble recoveries. The Spartans have only snagged two interceptions on the year, however. MSU’s defense will add to their takeaway total this week.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Aedan’s 3 Bold Predictions

1.) Avery Dunn continues his production

With several defensive players injured or suspended, Dunn has shown some promise in recent weeks. His situation is similar to when former Spartan Kenny Willekes came in out of nowhere to become the best defensive end in the conference in the mid-2010s. Against Indiana, there was a three-play drive where Dunn made all the tackles for MSU, including a sack and tackle for loss. He will continue to be a force up front for Michigan State on Saturday.

2.) Jayden Reed goes over 100 yards receiving

Reed will finish his Spartan career with a splash. I don’t think MSU has any wrinkles that we haven’t seen yet this year. Offensive coordinator has had many opportunities to show something new, but hasn’t. While Michigan State should utilize the tight ends more, they haven’t done that either, as Thorne targets Reed and Coleman more than anyone else.

Reed has remained Thorne’s main target even after the senior’s injury earlier this year. He will continue to make highlight plays as long as the ball is thrown to him. If Thorne stares him down in coverage that may hurt Reed’s chances of reaching 100 yards, but he creates enough space for himself to make up for it.

3.) Cal Haladay records double-digit tackles

Penn State loves to run the ball, and their freshman tailback Nick Singleton has been one of the best backs in the country this season. With the Spartans defensive front wounded, Penn State will attack the middle of MSU’s defense. Haladay will have plenty of opportunities to make big plays as a result.

Last season, Haladay was Michigan State’s leading tackler against Penn State, and against run-heavy teams such as Illinois, Wisconsin and Western Michigan, he’s played a big role in stopping the run this season. Expect him to be all over the field again Saturday.

Matt’s Preview, Score Prediction

Three weeks ago, Michigan State won a game that no one expected them to against Illinois. Then, last week, the Spartans lost a game that most expected them to win. Inconsistency and a lack of complimentary football have plagued this football team all season long.

Because of that, I would not be stunned if Michigan State goes into Happy Valley and beats the Nittany Lions. But, I certainly don’t expect the Spartans to do that.

This season, Penn State has beaten every opponent that they’re supposed to beat, and lost to two Top 5 teams. You can debate how good this Nittany Lion team is, but there’s no doubt that they are at least a good team that’s been fairly consistent all season. That’s more than I can say about the Spartans, unfortunately. Score Prediction: Michigan State 10, Penn State 34

Aedan’s Preview, Score Prediction

I’m not really convinced Penn State is that great of a team. While they played Michigan and Ohio State tough for a half each game, they ended up unraveling in the end. Are they the third best team in the Big Ten? Yes. But I don’t see them as the 11th best team in the country.

That said, I don’t think Michigan State will have an answer for running back Nick Singleton. He has been a powerful force all season, and will continue that against the Spartans. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is in his last game as well, and while I don’t think he is particularly good, MSU was exposed last week by a worse quarterback.

Offensively, I think Michigan State continues to struggle, as they will have a hard time establishing the run. We have seen MSU answer the bell against a similar team in Illinois, but the spartans have lost momentum.

This is a must-win game to earn a bowl berth, and a prove-it game for players and coaches alike. Penn State is the more talented team, and has been playing better recently. The Nittany Lions still have a chance to make a New Year's Six bowl, and I don’t think they will lose. The Land-Grant Trophy will go back to State College. Score Prediction: Michigan State 17, Penn State 35