MSU vs Penn State Scouting Report and Prediction

Hondo S. Carpenter


Can the Spartans with a mix of new wrinkles and an injured QB get a better start?  That will decide the game.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.
Can the Spartans with a mix of new wrinkles and an injured QB get a better start? That will decide the game. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

A look at this week’s opponent…

The Spartans play a dangerous and tough Penn State team. Well coached, the Lions are still playing for a lot.

When MSU has the ball…

Kirk Cousins is injured. He is NOT 100%. When the Spartans have the ball the Lions are going to follow the game plan of the last several opponents and try to take away the Spartans’ running attack.

Unlike Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern, and Michigan, the Lions have the ability to take it away and not crumble when MSU stages a comeback. I always like a fast start, but perhaps in no other game the Spartans have played this year is a fast start as critical as tomorrow in Happy Valley.

The Lions are not as talented as Iowa, but they do have more talent than the other teams mentioned and the Spartans CAN’T afford a slow start. Mark Dantonio is committed to balance play, but this is the game that they need to come out throwing to open up the run.

When MSU is on defense…

The Spartans need to stay in their base as often as they can. Don’t be deceived by the fact that the Lions are led by a former walk-on at QB. MSU needs to blitz when they want and not when they are forced to.

The Spartan attackers need to make sure tackles. The more the Spartans can have six and seven men back in pass coverage the better.  Penn State will attack MSU and the biggest key to this game is the front four.

If the front four of MSU get pressure on the Lions’ offensive attack the Spartans win. If the Spartans have to blitz simply to slow them down they don’t. That is why the base defense is so critical.


Cousins is injured. The Spartans haven’t won in Happy Valley since 1965. They have the pressure of 11-1.  It is Senior Day in Happy Valley. I have been all over the football world from BCS championship games to Super Bowls. Happy Valley is one of the best places as far as atmosphere in the world.

How will MSU handle all of the intangibles? How will the Spartans start after week after week of slow starts? Yes, the Spartans took their first possession down the field for a score last week, but before you could blink Purdue was off to the races and IT WAS a slow start.


I have played this game out in my head thousands of times. This Spartan team has overachieved all year. Key players I expected to grow into their spots have and done it quicker than expected.

The Spartans have not proven to me that they can avoid the slow starts. As stated earlier, the Lions are not as good as Iowa, but they are much better than many of the teams MSU has faced.

If the Spartans start fast and some new wrinkles and surprises work the Spartans win. That is a lot of ifs.

I expect MSU to fight, but the Lions win the finale for the 2010 regular season and I say make it 31-28 PSU. MSU makes a strong comeback, but in the end it isn’t enough. 

Dear Santa,

Please let me be wrong.