Is Penn State ready to move on from what happened against Ohio State? The Nittany Lions couldn’t hold a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter and a play or two — maybe one fourth-and-five play — is the only reason PSU isn’t 5-0 and firmly in the national college playoff discussion.
The Lions’ remaining schedule will be a challenge but PSU has the talent to run the table and register its first 11-win regular season under James Franklin. Is Michigan State a serious threat?
Mark Dantonio’s Spartans are 3-2 and two-touchdown underdogs Saturday. Fourteen points, that’s a big margin considering MSU, led by current quarterback Brian Lewerke, beat the Lions 27-24 last year at home.
But 14 feels like it’s in the ballpark, maybe not enough. Michigan State has struggled to stop the pass in losses to Arizona State and Northwestern and you could make a case that the Spartans were fortunate to slip by Utah State at home in the season opener.
Michigan State’s home loss to Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats was telling. The Spartans couldn’t stop quarterback Clayton Thorson, meaning Trace McSorley and his receivers could be sitting on a big day in State College.
Following the PSU game, MSU still must play Michigan, Purdue and Ohio State. A decisive win by the Lions on Saturday tells you 11-1 is a serious possibility for PSU. And 6-6 may be where the Spartans are headed.
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Lions tailback Miles Sanders. The Spartans’ top-ranked run defense will be a great test for No. 24. Why not dial up some pass plays for Sanders?
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF: PSU’s pass game is the story as the Lions dominate in the second half.
PREDICTION: Trace McSorley throws for four touchdowns and true freshman Pat Freiermuth is a factor for the third consecutive game. PENN STATE 47, MICHIGAN STATE 20.