College Football Odds & Picks for Michigan State vs. Penn State: Saturday’s Betting Value Lies With Sparty

College Football Odds & Picks for Michigan State vs. Penn State: Saturday’s Betting Value Lies With Sparty article feature image
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Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Nailor (left) and Jayden Reed (right).

  • After an 0-5 start, Penn State has back-to-back wins over Michigan and Rutgers to its name entering a matchup with Michigan State.
  • The Spartans have struggled in Mel Tucker’s first season in charge and could make a QB change for this game.
  • Matt Wispe explains why he is taking the Spartans as two-touchdown underdogs.

Michigan State vs. Penn State Odds

Michigan State Odds +16 [BET NOW]
Penn State Odds -16 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +480/-715 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 47 [BET NOW]
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV ABC
Odds as of Saturday morning and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.

After starting the season 0-5, Penn State has put together two straight wins over Michigan and Rutgers. Both victories saw the Nittany Lions cover the spread.

Michigan State enters this game coming off of a 52-12 loss to Ohio State. The Spartans are 2-4 in Mel Tucker’s first season. Interestingly, both of Sparty’s wins this season came in games in which they were multi-score underdogs.

This is the fourth time this season that the Spartans have been underdogs of at least 10 points, and they’re 2-1 against the spread (ATS) in those matchups.

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Michigan State Spartans

Tucker’s Spartans have been up and down in his first season as head coach. Their two wins are highlights, but statistically, they’ve taken a step back from 2019. Michigan State is allowing 12 more points and scoring 5.4 fewer points per game than it did in 2019. The Spartans boast an overall Offensive Success Rate of 31.9% which ranks sixth-worst, and their 2.424 points per opportunity ranks eighth-worst.

Rocky Lombardi has started all six games for the Spartans this season and has a 53.5% completion percentage with eight touchdowns against nine interceptions. Lombardi was knocked out of the Ohio State game with an injury, and Tucker has not yet decided if he will go with Lombardi or redshirt freshman Payton Thorne under center this weekend.

Thorne went 16-for-25 for 147 yards and an interception against the Buckeyes. For the year, the Spartans have the 22nd-worst Passing Success Rate in the country at 36.2%.

Michigan State’s running game is even worse than its pedestrian passing game. Sparty’s 26.9% Success Rate on the ground is the second-worst mark in the country and none of their top-five rushers average over 4.0 yards per carry.

The offensive line isn’t providing much help, wither. The unit has generated 2.292 Line Yards per attempt and a Stuff Rate of 22.3%.

Michigan State is allowing 34.5 points per game, but it sports an above-average 39.5% Success Rate allowed. The Spartans hold a Havoc rate of 16.6% and create an average of 1.7 turnovers per game.

The Spartans are particularly strong against the run and allow just 2.61 Line Yards per attempt and own a Stuff Rate of 24.9%, which has helped them to a 38.5% Rushing Success Rate.

Penn State Nittany Lions

There’s reason to believe that Penn State is a good team that has suffered from terrible luck this season. The Nittany Lions have outgained their opponents in five of their seven games. Penn State has an overall Success Rate of 42.3% and is averaging 5.0 yards per play.

Between Sean Clifford and Will Levis, the Nittany Lions are completing 58.6% of their passes for an average of 6.8 yards per attempt. They have a Passing Success Rate of 43.2% and are averaging 3.1 passing plays of at least 20 yards per game. The biggest red flag is that Clifford has thrown nine interceptions on the season.

Penn State runs the ball on 55% of its offensive plays and has a Rushing Success Rate of 41.3%. Its offensive line generates 3.018 yards per attempt and has only allowed a Stuff Rate of 18.5%. None of its running backs have been superstars, but Keyvonne Lee has emerged as the best of the group, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt.

Penn State is allowing 29.1 points per game with a Success Rate of 39.4%. The Nittany Lions have been strongest against the pass with a 40.2% passing success rate and have allowed just 2.1 explosive passing plays (20+ yards) per game.

But the Nittany Lions have struggled to get their opponents off of the field. They own a Havoc rate of 16.5% and have allowed 3.744 points per opportunity on the season.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Of the three previous teams to be favored against Michigan State by 10 or more points, only Ohio State has a Success Rate over 50%. While Penn State is arguably better on offense than both Michigan and Northwestern, it struggles to finish drives, and that makes the Nittany Lions a tough team to back as a two-touchdown favorite.

Additionally, this is a good spot to back Sparty as road underdogs cover the spread at a 59% clip in games with low totals.

Pick: Michigan State +14.5 (down to 13).

[Bet Michigan State now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]