Penn State vs. Michigan State College Football Week 13 Picks and Predictions

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Kenneth Walker III #9 of the Michigan State Spartans. Rich Schultz/Getty Images/AFP

Both No. 12 Michigan State and unranked Penn State can improve their bowl stock with a victory as they face off in the regular-season finale Saturday from East Lansing in Big Ten action. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan State Spartans 

Saturday, November 27, 2021 – 03:30 PM EST at Spartan Stadium 

ABC has the telecast of this Big Ten matchup between Penn State and No. 12 Michigan State. Not long ago, it looked like a potentially huge game in the conference but now honestly doesn’t mean that much in the regular-season finale for both. 

The all-time series between the schools is tied 17-17-1 and in East Lansing, Michigan State leads 10-6. Last year, Penn State was a 14-point home favorite on the NCAAF odds at BMR’s top-rated books and won 39-24 to complete hugely disappointing years for both.

Quarterback Sean Clifford completed 17 of 27 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns and added 48 yards and another touchdown on the ground for PSU, which trailed 21-10 at the half. Receiver Jahan Dotson returned a punt 81 yards for a score. Spartans QB Payton Thorne was 22-for-39 for 325 yards with three TDs and a pick.  The favorite is 8-2 against the spread in the past 10 meetings. 

Penn State QB in Question 

Could this be the final game as Penn State head coach James Franklin? He has been mentioned as a candidate at USC, LSU, and newly-open Florida. Franklin has reportedly told fans/boosters he plans to stay, but coaches always say that. 

Franklin’s “star” has dimmed a bit as Penn State (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) started 5-0 but obviously is 2-4 since. The Lions did rout Rutgers 28-0 in their home finale last Saturday. Penn State outgained Rutgers 407-160. However, starting PSU quarterback Sean Clifford, in the final home game of his career, left in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury. It’s not clear as of this writing if Clifford can play this week. 

It could be freshman backup Christian Veilleux, who completed 15-of-24 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns vs. Rutgers. He also rushed 10 times for 36 yards in his first action of the season. Jahan Dotson’s 52 receiving yards gave him 1,045 for the season, marking the sixth time a Nittany Lion receiver had at least 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Dotson’s 23 career receiving scores are third in school history. 

Veilleux began this season as the third-string quarterback behind Clifford and redshirt sophomore Ta’Quan Roberson, but he worked his way up the depth chart. Veilleux enrolled at Penn State in January and was a three-star recruit out of Maryland. 

The Rutgers win was Penn State’s second shutout of the season, also blanking Indiana on Oct. 2. It marks the first time since joining the Big Ten (1993) that the Nittany Lions have shut out two conference opponents in a single season. The Nittany Lions are 9-3 on the NCAAF picks in their past 12 Big Ten games.  

Spartans’ Playoff Hopes Are Gone 

It will be interesting to see how motivated Michigan State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) will be. The Spartans entered last week’s game at No. 4 Ohio State controlling their destiny to play in the Big Ten title game and possibly the College Football Playoff, but all that disappeared in a 56-7 wipeout victory by the Buckeyes. Frankly, it could have been 76-7 as Ohio State led 49-0 at the half. 

The 49-point loss was tied for the fifth-largest defeat all-time by an AP Top 10 team and the second-largest in the last 50 years, topped only by Nebraska’s 59-point loss to Ohio State in 2016. The Spartans were trashed so badly they probably won’t get a New Year’s Six Bowl bid, either, even with a win here. The Heisman candidacy of running back Kenneth Walker III came to an end, although he might still get an invite to New York.

Walker had just 25 yards on six carries vs. OSU. When asked about his star back after the game, coach Mel Tucker said that Walker was "banged up.” He’s now second nationally with 1,498 rushing yards and 14th with 17 rushing scores. Walker leads the FBS in rushing yards after contact (first with 1,090), 20-plus yard carries (first with 19), and missed forced tackles (first with 81). We assume Walker will play in this one.  

MSU’s top two receivers are also hurting. Jalen Nailor has missed the past three with a hand injury. He has 32 catches for 584 yards and six touchdowns on the season. No. 1 wideout Jayden Reed left the OSU game with a lower-body injury. He has 47 catches for 857 yards and seven TDs. 

Ten Spartans are in their last year of NCAA eligibility and will participate in their final home game Saturday. Walker could come back next year but seems likely to declare for the draft. Sparty is looking for the ninth 10-win season in school history.

Tucker would be the earliest Spartan coach to record a 10-win season, in his second year. Mark Dantonio previously did it fastest in Year 4. 

Michigan State is 3-0-2 ATS at the top-rated books in its past five at home. There are some major injuries for this one so we will have to largely speculate – if Clifford can’t play for Penn State, we have to back MSU.  

NCAAF Pick: Michigan State PK (+100) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.