Penn State-Michigan Betting Guide: McSorley’s Health Key; Wolverines Struggle vs. Mobile QBs

Penn State-Michigan Betting Guide: McSorley’s Health Key; Wolverines Struggle vs. Mobile QBs article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Miles Sanders and Devin Bush

Penn State at Michigan Betting Odds

  • Spread: Michigan -10.5
  • Over/Under: 53.5
  • Time: 3:45 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

Penn State is 2-2 over its last four games, but all four were decided by six points or less — something that hasn’t happened at PSU since the 1800s.

Can Penn State make that five in a row and cover this number, potentially spoiling Michigan’s playoff hopes? Or will the Maze and Blue roll in the Big House by double digits?

>> All odds as of 7 a.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.

Market Moves for Penn State-Michigan

By Danny Donahue

Even though Michigan is the playoff contender in this matchup, most bettors haven’t been willing to lay the double-digit point spread on the Wolverines. Penn State has attracted 55% of bettors, but their bets have accounted for just 44% of dollars wagered, moving this line from +10 to +10.5.

As for the total, it fell initially from 54.5 to 52.5, but has since come back up a point despite a heavy majority backing the under (73% of bets).

McSorley’s Health a Huge Question Mark

By Steve Petrella

Losing Trace McSorley for any amount of time would be devastating for Penn State. But against Michigan, it’s especially important he’s fully healthy. The third-year starter suffered what we think is a knee injury against Iowa last week, and PSU hasn’t released any info about it. We know he’ll gut it out and play, but can he run like normal?

McSorley torched the Wolverines last year on the ground for 87 yards (not counting sacks) and three touchdowns on nine carries. He acknowledged this week how important it is that he can move.

We saw Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush beat Michigan with his legs earlier in the season. The Wolverines can lose elusive quarterbacks in the middle of the field.

“If there’s one thing that’s shown up as a pattern to possibly hurt (Michigan), it’s been an athletic quarterback, someone who can take advantage of running lanes because they play so much man and they’re aggressive,” McSorley told reporters.

The loss of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and some veteran pass catchers has limited McSorley’s effectiveness through the air this season. He’s completing just 53% of his passes at 7.0 yards per attempt, both career lows.

But McSorley has been clutch on the ground with 617 yards (already a career high) and nine scores on 110 carries. If he can’t rely on his legs, this Michigan defense will feast. I think that’s going to be the case, and Penn State’s offense won’t carry its load to push this total over.

Steve’s Pick: Under 53.5

Is There Anywhere Michigan Doesn’t Hold an Edge?

By Collin Wilson

Any Michigan home game is worth a look, but this number may be too high. The Action Network power ratings have this game at Michigan -9, while S&P+ has this game set at -8.5 in favor of the Wolverines. No style points are needed for Michigan at this point in the season, as winning out should guarantee a trip to the College Football Playoff. This game serves as the last competitive hurdle on the road to a regular-season ending game against Ohio State.

Michigan is superior in every advanced statistic on the defensive side of the ball. Penn State’s calling card is its rushing attack and timely pass explosiveness. Those are two categories Michigan excels at defending, ranking fifth in defensive rushing S&P+ and first in the nation against pass explosiveness in passing down situations.

Penn State should have issues keeping a clean jersey on McSorley, as the offensive line ranks 101st in passing downs sack rate. That forecasts trouble against a Michigan defensive front that is first in sack rate on passing downs.

The only statistical category Penn State in which may be able to have success is limiting explosive passing plays, where the Nittany Lions rank third in the nation.

Michigan’s offense may not get its yards in large chunks, but it still is very efficient at moving the chains. The only way to play this game is on Michigan with a few of the outstanding 10s at some shops. Expect the Wolverines to bully their way over this Nittany Lions team with plenty of long drives on offense and three and outs on defense.

Collin’s Pick: Michigan at -10 or better


Penn State-Michigan Trends to Know

By John Ewing

Michigan is coming off a bye week. Since 2005, ranked teams playing at home after a bye have returned +26.53 units of profit for bettors.

No. 5 Michigan opened as 10-point favorite against No. 14 Penn State. Since 2005, in a matchup of top-25 Big Ten squads, the favorite has gone 39-29-4 (57%) ATS.

By Evan Abrams

The bye week advantage is well known for ranked teams, especially in the Big Ten. But for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, things haven’t been as smooth.

Harbaugh and Big Blue have been favored coming off at least 14 days of rest during the regular season or bowl season six times and Michigan is 3-3 SU, but just 1-5 ATS, losing his last three games in this spot outright.

While at Stanford, Harbaugh fared a bit better, going 4-1 straight up and 3-2 against the spread in this spot.

Michigan enters this game hot … really hot. The Wolverines have won seven straight games since their opening-week loss to Notre Dame. Michigan has also covered three straight games against Michigan State, Wisconsin and Maryland, where they are winning by 20 ppg over that stretch.

Over the last decade, Michigan has won at least three consecutive games SU and ATS while winning by an average of 20 ppg just twice prior to this week:

2015 (-7.5) vs. Michigan State under Harbaugh. Lost 27-23
2011 (+3) at Michigan State under Brady Hoke. Lost 28-14

Did You Know?

The last time Penn State defeated a ranked Michigan team in the Big House was back in 1996 when Wally Richardson, Curtis Enis and Joe Jurevicius led the Nittany Lions to victory 29-17 as two-point underdogs.

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