Time is running down for teams in college football to make their cases for bowl games or an opportunity to play in their respective Conference Championship games. In the final week of the regular season, the Big Ten will have two games that will loom large for the landscape of the college football playoffs.
The most enticing matchup will be between No. 3 Ohio State and No. 6 Michigan in what could be a decisive game in the college football playoff rankings. But on the other side, we also have Penn State and No. 13 Michigan State squaring off in an extremely important game for the Spartans of East Lansing.
Michigan State suffered their second and worst loss of the season in Week 12, getting blown out by Ohio State by the score of 56-7. For the Spartans, they will need to win and get some help for them to have a chance to play in the Big Ten Championship Game, which could give them an outside shot to make the college football playoffs.
Meanwhile, this week, the Nittany Lions are just playing as spoilers against their Big Ten rival in Michigan State. Penn State can improve the bowl game they take part in with a win, but with four losses already on the season, the Nittany Lions have no shot of being in the Big Ten Championship contest.
Will Michigan State be able to bounce back at home following a shellacking by Ohio State? Can Penn State ruin Michigan State’s hopeful chances of a Big Ten Championship?
All NCAAF gameday odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and updated as of 12:00 p.m. ET on November 22, 2021.
Penn State vs. Michigan State Prediction
Some people questioned why Ohio State was such massive favorites over Michigan State in Week 12. A majority of people believed that the Spartans could put up a valiant fight, only for them to lay an egg in what could be a game that decides their fate this season.
If you remove last week’s dumpster fire against Ohio State, Michigan is a well-balanced offense with Payton Thorne under center and Kenneth Walker III leading the way in the backfield.
While Walker has put together a Heisman-hopeful campaign with 1,508 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, Thorne has been solid with 2,618 yards, 22 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
Sportsbook Play of the Day
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For a team that has been well-known for its gritty defense over the years, Michigan State doesn’t have an elite group this season, especially in the secondary. The Spartans are susceptible to giving up big pass plays, which could favor Penn State.
The Nittany Lions could be making a change at quarterback in the final week of the season, with freshman Christian Veilleux potentially replacing senior Sean Clifford. Veilleux replaced Clifford last week against Rutgers, throwing for three touchdowns and 235 yards in a 28-0 victory over their Big Ten opponent.
While Veilleux showed an ability to push the ball down the field, Penn State happens to have a guy in Jahan Dotson that excels down the field. Dotson is having a fantastic season, with 83 receptions for 1,045 yards and 10 touchdowns entering the final week.
Even though Dotson could cause issues for Michigan State’s defense, the Spartans will be motivated to finish the season strong following an embarrassing effort versus the Buckeyes.
Prediction: Michigan State 27, Penn State 20
Penn State vs. Michigan State Best Bets
CFB Betting Record: 10-4-0
Best Bet: Michigan State +1.5 (-115) at TwinSpires
Wager: 1 Unit
You can tell that sportsbooks will have a tough time deciding the spread between Penn State and Michigan State this week. The indecision on their part is likely credited to Michigan State’s recent 49-point loss to Ohio State, causing some to question the talent of the Spartans.
While it was a poor showing from Michigan State, Ohio State is one of the hottest teams in the country right now. Putting the loss to the Buckeyes aside, the Spartans have been a far superior team to the Nittany Lions this season.
To get Michigan State as slight underdogs at home and at reasonable odds seems too good to be true. But with the Spartans still vying for a potential appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game, I expect Mel Tucker to have his team well-prepared this Saturday.
Michigan State is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games, and they have covered the spread in four out of their past five games against an opponent in the Big Ten East.
Best Bet: Michigan State Moneyline (-106) at TwinSpires
Wager: 1 Unit
It is peculiar to me why Penn State is opening as slight favorites over Michigan State. The Nittany Lions could have a freshman quarterback suiting up in a road game in East Lansing. So, despite having an impressive outing in Week 12 against Rutgers, Veilleux could be in for a bigger test on the road this week.
Penn State is decent against the run, surrendering 131.4 rushing yards per game, but Michigan State has arguably the best running back in the nation this season in Walker. After having only six carries for 25 yards in Week 12 against Ohio State, Walker is poised to be busy again in what is a crucial game for Michigan State.
Thorne will make enough plays through the air for the Spartans to win the game, and if he can avoid turning the ball over, then Michigan State will be positioned well throughout the game. Regardless of whether it is Veilleux or Clifford at quarterback for Penn State, Thorne has the edge at the position.
The Spartans are 5-0 in their last five games at home, while Penn State has produced an uninspiring 2-2 record as the road team this season.