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Michigan State upset Penn State last year in East Lansing, running its recent record against the Nittany Lions to 4-1 both straight up and against the spread over the last five meetings. Can the Spartans pull another surprise when they hit Happy Valley on Saturday afternoon?
College football point spread: The Nittany Lions opened as 14.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 40.2-23.8 Nittany Lions (College football picks on every game)
Why the Michigan State Spartans can cover the spread
Michigan State is hoping to rebound this week from a 29-19 home loss to Northwestern last week. The Spartans led the Wildcats early 3-0, fell down 14-3 but scored twice to re-take the lead at 19-14 late in the third quarter. But Michigan State then fell down again 22-19, and a fourth-down failure at its own 11-yard line then resulted directly in a late Northwestern touchdown that iced the game.
On the day the Spartans out-gained the Wildcats 425-381, held Northwestern to just eight yards rushing, won the turnover battle 2-1 and held a 34/26 advantage in time of possession. And usually that’s enough for a victory. But Michigan State gave up two long touchdown passes and threw an interception inside Wildcats territory, all of which proved costly.
The Spartans have out-gained four of their five opponents this season, and out-rushed them all.
Why the Penn State Nittany Lions can cover the spread
The Nittany Lions are also looking to bounce back this week, after taking that tough 27-26 loss at home to Ohio State two weeks ago. Penn State then had last week off.
The Lions led the Buckeyes two weeks ago 13-0 in the second quarter and 26-14 in the fourth. But they gave up two Ohio State scores, the second on a 96-yard drive, to fall down, then came up empty on a fourth down near midfield in the final minute.
On the evening Penn State piled up 492 yards of offense, 206 on the ground and 286 through the air. But the Lions also missed a field goal, lost a fumble at their own 25-yard line and got stopped on downs at the Buckeyes’ 24, all of which combined to basically cost Penn State 13 points.
However, the Nittany Lions covered the spread as three-point home dogs, so they’re 4-0 ATS over their last four games.
Smart betting pick
Michigan State won this matchup last year 27-24, and while it might not win this game it has enough to keep things close. Smart money takes the Spartans and the points.
College football betting trends
The total has gone over in 16 of Michigan State’s last 19 games vs Penn State.
Penn State is 17-3 SU in its last 20 games vs its conference.
The total has gone over in six of Michigan State’s last seven games.
All college football odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week’s top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.