It's hard for me to tell if the betting line on the MSU vs. Penn State game Saturday is legitimate or not. Penn State is a two touchdown favorite-- many tell me that's too high. It's an accurate line only after the game is played and the Nittany Lions either cover or they don't. For me Michigan State clearly will play hard and think about winning, but the odds seem significant. Penn State has won seven straight home games against MSU in this series and Joe Paterno has never lost at home to the Spartans. So is MSU due to win or due to keep on losing?
For me, MSU's defense is the biggest key. The Spartans must stop Penn State's occasionally sputtering offense. A good defensive effort will keep MSU in the game regardless of what is happening on the offensive side of the ball. The cold weather should keep the ball more on the ground than thrown through the air. You can figure that Penn State's solid defense will get after Javon Ringer and so Brian Hoyer will have to throw it a bit. He was a mere 10 for 22 against Purdue in cold weather and the MSU offense only scored two touchdowns. And Penn State's defense should be better than what Purdue offered. MSU had four turnovers against Purdue-- a similar output in this game could be fatal. I claim Brian Hoyer doesn't necessarily have to win the game on his own, but he can't lose it either. He played at Penn State two years ago and while the Spartans lost 17-13, he had moments where he moved his team pretty effectively.
If MSU receivers drop passes that's another issue. Michigan State needs to be sharp because no one goes into Penn State and wins, especially in big games. Ohio State did it last year rather easily but Penn State seems like it's a much better team this season. I thought Penn State would have a hangover after its loss to Iowa and it did-- but the 34-7 win against Indiana this last Saturday gives the Nittany Lions plenty to work on this week. If MSU wins, it will have gone farther, with limited talent, than any other MSU team I can ever remember and for that congratulations would truly be in order.