Penn State Preview: Michigan State

The Land Grant Trophy is on the line when Penn State hosts Michigan State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. Photo Credit: Steve Manuel

Our last game preview of the 2022 regular season is here. As always, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye, and where and when you can watch the Nittany Lions this weekend.

Game details: No. 11 Penn State (9-2, 6-2) vs. Michigan State (5-6, 3-5). 4 p.m. kickoff. Broadcast on FS1.

Venue: Beaver Stadium

Weather forecast (via Accuweather): High temperature of 47. Variable cloudiness and wind gusts as high as 32 mph, with a 25% chance of rain.

The Line: Penn State -18.

All-Time Series: Michigan State leads 18-17-1.  

Last Week: Penn State raced past Rutgers, 55-10. Michigan State dropped a home matchup with Indiana in double overtime, 39-31.

Last Meeting (2021): In very snowy conditions, Penn State fell 30-27 last season in East Lansing. Sean Clifford led a late rally for the Nittany Lions that fell short, throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Jahan Dotson caught eight passes for 137 yards and two scores, while Parker Washington had four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.

The Lead: Expectations were sky high for Michigan State to begin the season. Coming off an 11-win season and Peach Bowl victory over Pitt, the Spartans were ranked No. 15 in the preseason AP Poll and were expected to challenge for the Big Ten East crown. Things have not gone according to plan for Mel Tucker’s squad, who sit at 5-6 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play. The Spartans will need a win over Penn State on Saturday to become bowl eligible, something they failed to do at home last week against an Indiana team that had previously been winless since September.

Michigan State’s ground game will present a decent challenge for a Nittany Lions defense that has played exceptionally this season. Jalen Berger rushed for 119 yards for Sparty a week ago, while Elijah Collins collected 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns, giving MSU a decent duo of running backs. So much of what quarterback Peyton Thorne does is predicated on the Spartans establishing their ground attack.

Speaking of running back duos, what else is there to say about Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen? They’re phenomenal and only going to get better. With Allen’s 117 rushing yards against Rutgers, Allen (748 rushing yards) and Singleton (863 rushing yards) became the first freshman duo in Big Ten history to both rush for 700+ yards in a season.

Since 2000, Allen and Singleton are one of four FBS true freshman duos over 700 yards in a season. They are Penn State’s seventh 700+ rushing yards duo.

Look for the Nittany Lions to lean heavily on the freshmen pair once again on Saturday.

Keep An Eye On: The Penn State front seven. With 15 tackles for loss against the Scarlet Knights, Penn State has recorded at least seven tackles for loss in each of the last six games (Michigan, 7; Minnesota, 7, Ohio State, 7; Indiana, 16; Maryland, 9; Rutgers, 15).

The run defense also limited Rutgers to 32 rushing yards on 35 attempts (0.9 per attempt) and has limited eight opponents to less than 100 rushing yards this season. If the defense can stifle the ground game for the Spartans, the Nittany Lions have a great shot at moving to 10-2.

Big Ten Schedule:

– Nebraska at Iowa (Friday, 4 p.m. ET. BTN)

– No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State (Noon ET. FOX)

– Rutgers at Maryland (Noon ET. BTN)

– Illinois at Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET. TBD)

– Minnesota at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET. ESPN)

– Purdue at Indiana (3:30 p.m. ET. BTN)

Trivia Tidbit: Penn State head coach James Franklin earned his 100th career win last Saturday against Rutgers. He became the 27th active FBS coach with 100 career wins.

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