No. 7 Penn State (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) at No. 24 Michigan State (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan
Saturday, 12 p.m., FOX
No. 7 Penn State attempts to bounce back from a crushing loss at Ohio State with a visit to No. 24 Michigan State.
Scouting Penn State
The seventh-ranked Nittany Lions frittered away a 15-point fourth-quarter lead in a 39-38 loss to Ohio State last Saturday, dealing a severe blow to their hopes for a Big Ten championship repeat and/or a berth in the College Football Playoff. Saquon Barkley ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown and also scored on a 36-yard run, but his other 20 carries netted eight yards. He continues to lead the nation in all-purpose yards per game (206.3). He is also fourth in kickoff-return average (34.4) and fifth in scoring (84 points). McSorley has clicked on 65.9 percent of his throws, for 2,071 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has been intercepted five times. Jason Cabinda has 59 tackles to lead the defense, but the Lions had no answers for Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett in last week’s fourth quarter.
Scouting Michigan State
The 24th-ranked Spartans fell, 39-31, in triple overtime at Northwestern last week, despite a 445-yard, four-touchdown passing day from quarterback Brian Lewerke. Two of his TD throws went to Cody White, who caught nine balls for 165 yards in all. White has just 20 catches this season, however, and is third on the team behind Darrell Stewart (35-362-1) and Felton Davis (33-405-7). Running back LJ Scott has rushed for 511 yards (4.5 per carry). MSU leads the conference and is fourth in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 89.8 yards a game. The Spartans are also eighth in the country in total defense (283.4). Linebacker Joe Bachie has 73 tackles, and defensive end Kenny Willekes has contributed four sacks and 8½ tackles for loss.
PSU won last year’s meeting, 45-12, to even the all-time series at 15-15-1.
Storyline to watch
The Lions lost offensive tackle Ryan Bates and defensive end Ryan Buchholz to leg injuries against the Buckeyes. That appeared to greatly affect the team late in the game, when it could neither block OSU nor mount a significant pass rush. Coach James Franklin does not address injuries, but it seems unlikely either will play this week.
What's at stake
The teams have exchanged blowouts the last two years. At the end of the 2015 game, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio gave his center a carry, and he rumbled for a touchdown. At the end of last year’s game, the Lions still had their starters in, and were still throwing. So, yes, there would appear to be some bad blood.
If you can’t block anyone and can’t mount a pass rush, how do you win?
Michigan State 27, Penn State 24