Penn State football vs. Michigan State preview

penn state football

Penn State football will host Michigan State on Saturday and look to improve to 3-5 and give itself a chance at a potential bowl game. After dropping their first five games, the Nittany Lions have managed to take a few positives out of this disastrous season by picking up wins at Michigan and Rutgers. While a win on Saturday wouldn’t change the overall outlook on the 2020 season, it would say a lot about the players by not throwing in the towel and fighting until the last game.

If James Franklin’s team is lucky enough to make another bowl appearance, it’d be good for the program going into next year coming off potentially four consecutive wins. But first, Penn State will need to defend the Land Grant Trophy and tie the all-time series at 17-17-1 with the Spartans. Here’s what to watch for on Saturday.


Penn State has shown some signs of being capable of being a good offense, but the consistency isn’t there yet. In last week’s win against Rutgers, it moved the ball well in the first half, but was pretty stagnant to close the game. In the eighth game of the year, I hope to see a quality four quarters from Sean Clifford and the boys.

It’s a favorable matchup as they get a Michigan State defense that has struggled in its six games. It has given up an average of 394 yards of total offense and 34.5 points per game. Coming off of a brutal 52-12 loss versus Ohio State, I think Kirk Ciarrocca smells blood in the water and will try to be aggressive offensively.

Last year the Nittany Lions got out to a 28-0 lead in East Lansing early into the second half. An early lead matters, so if they can score first and establish the run game like they have in the past two games, I really like their odds to hold on.


If the defense played every game like the way it played last week, Penn State would have a few more wins than they do. It took them a while, but it finally played a full game of dominant, mistake free football and need to carry that momentum into this week at home.

Michigan State’s starting quarterback is still to be determined for Saturday afternoon’s game. Rocky Lombardi has started in all six games this season for the Spartans, but left last week’s game in the second quarter after suffering an injury. That has to be in the top three names in college football, right? I mean c’mon… a combination of the greatest fictional boxer of all time and an iconic NFL coaching legend. That’s tough to beat.

Lombardi’s play this season hasn’t been as good as his name, though. He’s completing just 53% of his passes and has a 8:9 touchdown to interception ratio. Freshman Payton Thorne took over after Lombardi went down and completed 16 of 25 passes for 147 yards and an interception in the loss to the Buckeyes.

No matter who gets the start, I think Michigan State is depleted and just a very bad football team this year. I like Penn State football to continue the winning streak and avoid going winless in Beaver Stadium this year.

Game info

Date: Dec. 12
Time: Noon ET
Spread: Penn State -14.5
Over/Under: 46.5

Prediction: Penn State 31, Michigan State 10