College Football Picks, Predictions, and Previews: The Way It Oughtta Be

Michigan State vs. Penn State 12/12/2020 College Football Picks, Prediction, and Preview

The Michigan State visits Penn State on 12/12/2020 at 12:00PM.

Michigan State and Penn State face off in an important game for both teams as every game in this shortened season with limited or no fans in attendance means more. Michigan State has a record of 2-4 this season. Penn State is 2-5 this season. Both have players to meet and know.

Michigan State Team Defense Preview

Michigan State has had 71 total defensive drives this season and they yield 5.48 plays per drive. There is not much to take away here when it comes to how many plays per drive opponents run, but they are a team that falls in the average window when it comes to plays per drive. Opponents face third and long situations a lot against this defense. This is a defense that forces opponents to commit penalties, have compromised offensive line play, and fail to convert on crunch possessions. Passing plays make up 53.98% of their opponents’ play calls.Michigan State tends to face teams that prefer to air it out or opponents want to air it out against them.

Michigan State opponents have struggled with running the ball and this defense has crushed the spirits of their opponents with zero or negative yard plays. 4th and Short is not a cake walk against this defense, maybe passing on 4th and Short or having some sort of RPO is the way to go here because if an Offensive Coordinator thinks that they can just line and run a Quarterback Sneak or hand it off to a tailback, they are mistaken. How effective are opposing offensive lines given what we know about their ability to force negative yardage rushing plays? Michigan State can take credit for holding the offensive line of their opponent to 2.5 yards per carry. Opponent offensive lines have been simply unable to support their running games against this defense. When it comes to getting to that second level, running backs are getting stopped. This defense does not allow themselves to be gashed. They are capable of giving up a long run, which is really demoralizing when the opposing team has the ball deep in their own territory.

This Defense has had average success disrupting the flow of the opposing offense.. Getting more granual into the front seven and their ability to cause trouble, they are just average in this regard. Michigan State is better at stopping the run than the pass this season.

Michigan State Team Offense Preview

Michigan State has had 72 drives in non-garbage time minutes and they average 4.71 plays per drive. Relatively speaking, Michigan State is not a team that runs many plays per drive. The offense is either prone to faltering and struggles to notch first downs or extremely explosive, we will need to find out a bit more to get answers. Struggles to get ahead of the chains and convert on third and fourth down are common, the offense can stagnate. Passing plays make up 51.03% of their play calls.Relatively speaking, this is a team that favors run/pass balance.

Michigan State struggles with running the ball, getting zero or negative yard plays is disspiriting and the offensive line is not effectively making a good push. Poor playcalling, pre-snap adjustments or post-snap reads may be responsible and this could fall on the Quarterback, Offensive Coordinator, and Head Coach. How effective is the offensive line given what we know about their ability to prevent negative yards on rushing plays? More than you think, thanks to the Adjusted Line Yards metric. Michigan State can take credit for 2.18 yards per carry. So what does this mean? It means that the offensive line has been incredibly disappointing in their contribution to the ground game. When it comes to getting to that second level where linebackers have not crashed down on the line of scrimmage, they are getting stopped with ease. The breakout rushing plays are simply not happening, it is a massive reach to expect this team to bust out big rushing plays.

Defenses have been able to impose their will on the Michigan State Offense this season. Front sevens of opposing defenses are causing a lot of problems. Michigan State is a better passing team than running team this season.

Penn State Team Defense Preview

Penn State has had 85 defensive drives in non-garbage time minutes and they yield 5.2 plays per drive. Relatively speaking, Penn State is not a team that allows many plays per drive. This defense either gives up big plays quickly or induces a lot of three-and-outs, we shall find out more. Opponents face third and long situations a lot against this defense. This is a defense that forces opponents to commit penalties, have compromised offensive line play, and fail to convert on crunch possessions. Passing plays make up 47.06% of their opponents’ play calls.Their opponents favor running the ball as opposed airing it out.

Defenses want to stop offenses from getting into a 3rd Down where the options are plentiful. Unfortunately, this defense is too porous to limit those choices. Opponent rushing yards attributed to their offensive line this season comes out to 2.61 yards per carry. Opponent offensive lines have been simply unable to support their running games against this defense. When it comes to getting to that second level, running backs are getting stopped. This defense does not allow themselves to be gashed. Opponents have shown a relatively average level of explosiveness in the running game, maybe there will be a breakout rushing play against them.

This Defense has had average success disrupting the flow of the opposing offense.. Getting more granual into the front seven and their ability to cause trouble, they are just average in this regard. Penn State has shown themselves to be better at stopping the pass than the run this season.

Penn State Team Offense Preview

Penn State has had 87 drives in non-garbage time minutes and they average 6.09 plays per drive. When you are among the best at plays per drive, you are certainly a team that aims to wear down the opposition with a high play count or with long, physical grinding drives that eat up a lot of clock. We need to find out more here when it comes to Penn State. Penn State is an average offense when it comes to staying ahead of the chains, getting into 3rd and Short scenarios, and converting on 3rd and 4th Down. Penn State passes the football 48.30% of the time.Relatively speaking, this is a team that favors run/pass balance.

On first downs, getting ahead of the chains is crucial and running the ball well on first down can get a team there, Penn State has done a good job avoiding the negative yardage rushing plays. How effective is the offensive line given what we know about their ability to prevent negative yards on rushing plays? More than you think, thanks to the Adjusted Line Yards metric. Penn State can take credit for 3.02 yards per carry. Generally speaking, this is an average offensive line as far as their ability to set up the running game. This is also a team that is getting to the second-level in an average fashion. Offensive line and running backs are average in this regard. The breakout rushing plays are simply not happening, it is a massive reach to expect this team to bust out big rushing plays.

Defenses have had average success disrupting the flow of the Penn State Offense. Front sevens are causing an average amount of trouble for the Offense. Penn State is a better passing team than running team this season.

The Michigan State Roster

The Players to Watch for Michigan State

Rocky Lombardi QB 6-4 225

This season, Rocky Lombardi has put up 1090 yards and 8 touchdowns. He has thrown 9 interceptions. He has a QB Rating of 117.2thus far this season. Rocky Lombardi has thrown 9 interceptions this season.As a rusher, Rocky Lombardi has 39.0 rushing yards, which puts him in the 59.72 percentile among Quarterbacks. He ran the ball as opposed to throwing the ball 32.0 times this season, which puts him in the 68.06 percentile. Has he hit paydirt as a runner? He has 0.0 rushing touchdowns this season.

Connor Heyward RB 6-0 230

This season, Connor Heyward has 190 rushing yards on 60 carries. Was he able to get to the end zone on the ground? He has 0 rushing touchdowns.As a receiver in the backfield, Connor Heyward picked up 71 yards. He caught the ball as opposed to taking handoffs or catching laterals 18 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 2 receiving touchdowns this season.

Jalen Nailor WR 6-0 185

This season, Jalen Nailor picked up 415 yards. He caught the ball 20 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 2 receiving touchdowns this season.

Naquan Jones DT 6-4 340

The leading tackler among Defensive Tackles for Michigan State, Naquan Jones has 20 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 5 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 94.84 percentile among Defensive Tackles. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 0 times this season, which put him in the 32.96 percentile among all Defensive Tackles in College Football. He has forced 0 fumbles this season.

Jacub Panasiuk DE 6-4 250.0

The leading tackler among Defensive Ends for Michigan State, Jacub Panasiuk has 25 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 2 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 64.24 percentile among Defensive Ends. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 1 times this season, which put him in the 66.28 percentile among all Defensive Ends in College Football. He has forced 0 fumbles this season.

Xavier Henderson S 6-1 210.0

He is the leading tackler among non-exclusive Defensive Backs (meaning he can play either Safety Position, Nickel Back, Star or even play as a Cornerback in coverage) for Michigan State, Xavier Henderson had 37 tackles which puts him in the 86.65 percentile among returning non-exclusive Defensive Backs. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 2 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 86.1 percentile among Secondary position players. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 0 times this season. Xavier Henderson as a ball hawker was able to pick off 0 passes this season, which puts him in the 37.97 percentile among returning secondary position players this season.

Shakur Brown CB 5-11 190

Considered the leading tackler among Cornerbacks for Michigan State, Shakur Brown had 23 tackles which puts him in the 80.03 percentile among Corners. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 0 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 34.7 percentile among Corners. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 0 times this season. Shakur Brown as a ball hawker was able to pick off 5 passes this season, which puts him in the 99.86 percentile among Corners this season.

The Penn State Roster

The Players to Watch for Penn State

Sean Clifford QB 6-2 217

This season, Sean Clifford has put up 1366 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has thrown 9 interceptions. He has a QB Rating of 126.4thus far this season. Sean Clifford has thrown 9 interceptions this season.As a rusher, Sean Clifford has 276.0 rushing yards, which puts him in the 91.36 percentile among Quarterbacks. He ran the ball as opposed to throwing the ball 81.0 times this season, which puts him in the 92.59 percentile. Has he hit paydirt as a runner? He has 2.0 rushing touchdowns this season.

Keyvone Lee RB 6-0 230

This season, Keyvone Lee has 322 rushing yards on 58 carries. Was he able to get to the end zone on the ground? He has 3 rushing touchdowns.As a receiver in the backfield, Keyvone Lee picked up 47 yards. He caught the ball as opposed to taking handoffs or catching laterals 8 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 0 receiving touchdowns this season.

Jahan Dotson WR 5-11 182

This season, Jahan Dotson picked up 587 yards. He caught the ball 38 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 6 receiving touchdowns this season.

PJ Mustipher DT 6-4 300

The leading tackler among Defensive Tackles for Penn State, PJ Mustipher has 30 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 0 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 23.32 percentile among Defensive Tackles. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 0 times this season, which put him in the 32.96 percentile among all Defensive Tackles in College Football. He has forced 0 fumbles this season.

Jayson Oweh DE 6-5 252.0

The leading tackler among Defensive Ends for Penn State, Jayson Oweh has 38 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 6 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 90.39 percentile among Defensive Ends. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 0 times this season, which put him in the 29.35 percentile among all Defensive Ends in College Football. He has forced 0 fumbles this season.

Jaquan Brisker S 6-1 212.0

He is the leading tackler among non-exclusive Defensive Backs (meaning he can play either Safety Position, Nickel Back, Star or even play as a Cornerback in coverage) for Penn State, Jaquan Brisker had 41 tackles which puts him in the 89.97 percentile among returning non-exclusive Defensive Backs. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 2 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 86.1 percentile among Secondary position players. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 0 times this season. Jaquan Brisker as a ball hawker was able to pick off 0 passes this season, which puts him in the 37.97 percentile among returning secondary position players this season.

Joey Porter Jr. CB 6-2 193

Considered the leading tackler among Cornerbacks for Penn State, Joey Porter Jr. had 30 tackles which puts him in the 92.35 percentile among Corners. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 2 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 91.5 percentile among Corners. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 1 times this season. Joey Porter Jr. as a ball hawker was able to pick off 0 passes this season, which puts him in the 36.4 percentile among Corners this season.

Michigan State vs. Penn State Prediction, Picks, and Odds


Prediction: Michigan State 15 Penn State 28

Spread Pick: Michigan State +15 -105 5Dimes
Moneyline Pick: Penn State -574 SportsInteraction
Total Pick: Under 47 -110 Pinnacle Sports