Preview: Michigan State at Penn State

When: 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, November 26, 2016
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pennsylvania

Should Ohio State beat Michigan in a noon contest Saturday, No. 8 Penn State will take the field in front of 100,000 fans at Beaver Stadium against Michigan State needing a win to secure the Big Ten East championship and a spot in the conference title game. Furthermore, should the Nittany Lions, currently ranked seventh in the College Football Playoff rankings, win the conference crown, it would keep their chances alive for a spot in the Final Four.

Penn State coach James Franklin acknowledged that he would speak to his team about the unique circumstances coming this weekend, but that his focus is only on Michigan State. The third-year coach knows this game will be won or lost in the trenches, as Michigan State brings a ground attack that has rushed for over 200 yards in four of their last five games, including 207 last week in a 17-16 loss to No. 2 Ohio State. The Lions yielded just 87 yards of offense last week in a 39-0 win at Rutgers - the fewest they have yielded in a Big Ten game and fewest in any game since giving up 74 yards versus Temple in 2006. “You look at us, what we've been doing, stopping the run here recently, Purdue 1.8 yards per carry, Iowa 1.2 yards, Indiana 2.7, Rutgers 1.2. When you can make people one-dimensional, that's going to be important this week. That's going to help you,” Franklin said of his front seven which was beset by injuries early in the season but is now healthy as it prepares for LJ Scott. ”He was a great player last year. I think they were getting that offensive line to kind of grow and mature early on this season. He's a big, strong back that can make you miss. Him and Saquon (Penn State's Barkley) I think, in some ways, have some similarities. It's going to be a real challenge for us."

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Penn State -12.5

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (3-8, 1-7 Big Ten): Scott ran for a career-high 160 yards on 19 carries and added 76 more on receptions against the Buckeyes last week, and the sophomore has 935 yards and a 5.6 average this season. After rushing for 336 yards and two touchdowns on 73 carries in the first six games, Scott has rushed for 599 yards and four TDs on 95 carries in his last five games. Due to a combination of youth and injuries, Michigan State has had a different starting lineup in every game this season, but the defense held the Buckeyes to season lows in points (17), total offense (310 yards) and passing (86 yards) last week.

ABOUT PENN STATE (9-2, 7-1): First-year offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has the offense humming, averaging 39.7 points during the Nittany Lions’ seven-game winning streak, as quarterback Trace McSorley (2,600 yards passing, 359 yards rushing, 23 total TDs, five interceptions) is on track to break Penn State's record for total offense in a season. Barkley continues to lead the Big Ten in rushing yards (1,205), all-purpose yards (1,538) and touchdowns (14), and the sophomore has rushed for 825 yards and a 6.3 average in his last six games. Tight end Mike Gesicki set a program record for receptions in a season by a tight end, hauling in five at Rutgers to bring his season total to 42.


1. In the battle for the Land-Grant Trophy (established in 1993), Michigan State leads the all-time series 15-14-1 following a 55-16 win in East Lansing last season.

2. The Nittany Lions, who are 6-0 at home this season, will honor 17 seniors prior to the game - the first recruiting class after the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

3.  Michigan State senior LB Riley Bullough surpassed the 200-tackle milestone for his career in the Ohio State game, becoming the fourth member of the Bullough family with 200 tackles (uncle Chuck with 391 from 1988-91; father Shane with 311 from 1983-86; brother Max with 299 from 2010-13).

PREDICTION: Penn State 27, Michigan State 20

Stats and Records

Team Comparison

  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Michigan State 3-8 L1 25.2 26.2 2-5 1-3 3-5 0-0 1-7
Penn State 9-2 W7 35.8 23.7 6-0 3-2 7-1 0-0 7-1

Last Meeting

Michigan State Penn State
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
11/28/15 PSU 16 MSU 55 436 188 248 418 122 296

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
MSU C. Cook 73.1 248 3 0
PSU C. Hackenberg 56.4 257 2 2
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
MSU G. Holmes 12 64 5.3 1
PSU S. Barkley 17 103 6.1 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
MSU A. Burbridge 6 75 12.5 1
PSU C. Godwin 11 109 9.9 2
TDs Player TD
MSU J. Allen 1
PSU C. Godwin 2
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
MSU T. O'Connor 59.8 1852 16 9
PSU T. McSorley 54.9 2600 17 5
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
MSU L. Scott 168 935 5.6 6
PSU S. Barkley 216 1205 5.6 14
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
MSU R. Shelton 48 715 14.9 5
PSU C. Godwin 42 627 14.9 7
TDs Player TD
MSU L. Scott 7
PSU S. Barkley 16

Quickchart Matchup

Michigan State Off vs  Penn State Def
399.7 yards
347.1 yards
4.6 yards/rush
3.9 yards/rush
7.5 yards/attempt
6.2 yards/attempt
Penn State Off vs  Michigan State Def
430.5 yards
355.9 yards
4.8 yards/rush
4.3 yards/rush
8.6 yards/attempt
6.8 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Michigan State Overall Penn State
3-8-0 W/L 9-2-0
4-7-0 ATS 7-3-1
4-7-0 O/U 8-3-0
25.2 Pts For 35.8
26.2 Pts Against 23.7
Michigan State A/H Penn State
1-3 W/L 6-0
1-3-0 ATS 3-2-1
2-2-0 O/U 4-2-0
25.2 Pts For 33.2
27.8 Pts Against 19.2