USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Trace McSorley and Brian Lewerke
Penn State-Michigan State Betting Pick, Odds
- Line: Penn State -13.5
- Over/Under: 53
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: Big Ten Network
>> All odds as of 7 a.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
One year ago, Michigan State capped its resurgent season by ending Penn State’s College Football Playoff hopes. This year, the Nittany Lions have remained a contender, while MSU has fallen off in a big way.
Michigan State scraped by Indiana, Utah State and Central Michigan in its three wins in 2018. In its two losses to Arizona State and Northwestern, it has scored 32 total points.
But which Spartans team will we see Saturday? The giant-killer that consistently gives the country’s best teams fits, or the one that laid down against Northwestern last week?
Market Moves for Penn State-Michigan State
There’s not much to note as far as the betting market is concerned in this game. Penn State is getting 66% of bets — as should be expected — but this line has yet to move off -13.5 since opening at Pinnacle.
The total is only a bit more interesting. Bettors are slightly favoring the over, which has picked up 54% of bets, but the total has fallen a few points since opening, indicating potential sharp action on the under.
Trends to Know
By John Ewing
Top-10 teams tend to be overvalued by the betting market at home. Since 2005, teams ranked in the top 10 playing at home have gone 413-445-17 (48%) ATS. In the last five seasons, these teams have cost bettors even more money, going 125-165-5 (43%) ATS.
By Evan Abrams
Under Mark Dantonio, the Spartans are 7-8 SU and 11-4 ATS as an underdog against a top-10 team, making him the most profitable coach vs. top-10 teams.
Michigan State’s last game in this spot? Nov. 4, 2017 vs. Penn State — the Spartans won 27-24 as a 9.5-point underdog.
Where Michigan State Is Strongest
Michigan State might have the best run defense in the country. It’s allowing just 1.32 yards per carry, and ranks first nationally in efficiency, stuff rate (runs for zero or negative yards) and opportunity rate (runs for fewer than 5 yards). Teams also run on Michigan State just 35.46% of the time, by far the lowest mark in the country.
We know the Spartans can and will take away Miles Sanders, just like Ohio State did. But can it stop Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley on the ground? Because it won’t stop him through the air.
MSU allowed Central Michigan quarterback Tommy Lazzaro to run for 48 yards on eight carries (6.0 per) and Arizona State’s Manny Wilkins to go for 40 yards on six carries (6.66 per). Both those totals don’t include sack yardage.
Those aren’t gaudy numbers by any means, but McSorley is a much more talented runner than either of those guys, and quarterback runs are the only way anyone has moved on Michigan State’s rush defense.
Where Michigan State is Weakest
The handicap with Michigan State is the injuries to their offensive line and the secondary. Both units have been the reason for its decline. Michigan State’s offensive line ranks 92nd in opportunity rate and 69th in stuff rate, so even with a healthy LJ Scott, the Spartans would have issues moving the chains. Quarterback Brian Lewerke hasn’t been protected in recent games, with the offensive line ranking 87th in adjusted sack rate on passing downs.