November 26, 2010

LBU Staff Predictions: Michigan State at Penn State

Evan Royster hurdle
Evan Royster could go out a winner, or...
we hope. (Photo: Mike/LBU)
Here is our weekly prognosticating, this time on a very full stomach...


This game will come down to one thing: coaching. It’s painfully obvious that Penn State has two coaching philosophies: 1) Conservative on both sides of the ball or 2) aggressive on both sides of the ball. The two sides seem to be in synch as well. Against Ohio State Penn State came out guns a blazin’ and roared out to a two score lead. The offense was throwing on first down and the defense was blitzing and they had great success. Then both sides went into a conservative shell, blitzes were no longer called and Jay Paterno dialed up the “mash the running back into the center of the line for two plays, desperation 3rd and long incompletion, punt” offense that goes nowhere. The same thing happened against Indiana once the Hoosiers tied it up but luckily Penn State’s special teams saved the day and got momentum back. It’s really that simple, call a conservative game against a top 10 team and you will LOSE. Come out playing aggressive with a nothing to lose attitude and Penn State will win. I’m betting on the former.

Odd stat of the game: Michigan State is 1st in the conference in punt returns and dead last in kickoff returns and they are led by the same guy (Keshawn Martin). Try to explain that one.

Penn State 17 – Michigan State 27


I think it’s ironic that my first blog is for my final Penn State football game as a student. Yes I will be one of those students fighting Black Friday traffic to get back to Happy Valley and to honor the seniors of this year’s Penn State squad. Ranked Michigan State is coming into town, and after barely squeaking by Purdue last week, the Spartans are still tied for the Big Ten Championship. We will see a complete game from Penn State but Michigan State is the more complete team and when it comes to the 4th quarter Michigan State is the team with more on the line. Look for plenty of scoring with these two offenses but the Spartans just have too many weapons for the Penn State defense.

Michigan State 31 - Penn State 27


Sparty is good, but not great. I can't imagine Michigan State won't show up for this game, but I just as easily can't imagine Penn State not fighting its heart out on senior day. The last time Penn State lost its regular season finale, it was against Michigan... in 1999. Matt McGloin should have success off play-action, if the running game can just keep MSU off balance enough. The defense concerns me a bit, with Michigan State's very, very good running backs. Getting into good position is a lot of the formula to stop Sparty, but it won't matter if tackling still sucks. With all that, Penn State has been able to beat Michigan State with even mediocre and bad teams. I'll go with the good guys this week, and risk looking really stupid, or really smart.

Penn St. 30 - Michigan St. 27


If this was John L. Smith's Michigan State, I'd be more confident than I am about the game Saturday, but this Spartans team is proving a pesky opponent. While they have been allowing teams they should beat handily to hang around until they pull it together at the end, I'm not sure that formula will work against PSU. Penn St. needs to make the Spartans pay if they come out slow and sloppy and make the uphill climb back too difficult. I think the offense can do their part, but Cousins and the running should give the defense all they can handle. What this game comes down to is if Penn St. can finish their tackles, force Cousins into making quick decisions, be aware of trick plays on special teams and capitalize on Michigan State's mistakes with turnovers and points. Ultimately, Penn St. should be up to the task at home.

Penn St. 34 - Michigan St. 30


There is a good reason why Michigan State is a mere 1-2 point favorite in this game according to the oddsmakers: Aside from the fact that they are 0-8 at Beaver Stadium since PSU joined the Big Ten (and most of the time it hasn't even been close), Sparty has been an extremely shaky team outside of the state of Michigan. They needed to rally from a large early deficit at Northwestern and got absolutely demolished at Iowa. While I don't see PSU laying an Iowa-style whipping, I envision Matt McGloin effing it and going deep early and often against a mediocre secondary, which in turn will open up the running game for Royster/Redd/Green/Zordich/Suhey. Sparty's balanced offensive attack will give PSU fits as well, especially with their latest dynamic duo tailbacking corps of Edwin Baker and LeVeon Bell. It would not be surprising to see this game resemble a shootout, which means a turnover or huge special teams play can make all the difference in this one. Call it stubbornness on my part, but I refuse to believe that PSU won't come up with some critical game-changing play necessary to continue Sparty's Beaver Stadium woes.

Penn State 34, Michigan State 27

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