Big Ten Week 7 Overview: Sparty Seeks Answers at Penn State

Jay Pryce

Monday, October 8, 2018 2:31 PM UTC

Monday, Oct. 8, 2018 2:31 PM UTC

Michigan State's offense is sputtering as it heads to Happy Valley to take on No. 8 Penn State. A typically strong defense should be enough to help Sparty stay within a double-digit spread. Our thoughts on this matchup and all the Week 7 Big Ten action here. 

Big Ten Spotlight: Michigan State at No. 8 Penn State (-13)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, on BTN
Free NCAAF Pick: Michigan State ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline

Michigan State’s (3-2 SU, 1-4 ATS) offense continues to have serious issues. It averages 3.41 yards per carry, ranking 111th in the FBS, and coughs up possession 1.8 times per game. The miscues and blunders were on full display in its ugly 29-19 home loss to Northwestern Saturday. The Spartans kicked off 10-point favorites. Since 2015, Michigan State’s scoring output against teams with a winning record is just 20.3 points per game.

Penn State’s (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS) offense, meanwhile, is soaring, playing 9.8 points per game above betting market projections. The Nittany Lions average 49.6 points per game, ranking fifth in efficiency with .672 points per play.

Defense will keep the Spartans competitive despite their scoring woes. It surrenders a paltry 33.8 rushing yards per game, forcing opponents to turn one-dimensional and go to the air almost exclusively. Michigan State, in fact, faces just 35.5 percent rushing plays, lowest nationally. It’s a hallmark of head coach Mark Dantonio’s system, and performs well against elite programs. The Spartans allow 28.7 points per game in road contests against ranked opponents since 2007.

The Nittany Lions defense will prove the difference-maker in the matchup, but give up more than expected. It yields 15.7 points per game as a home favorite hosting Big Ten rivals under head coach James Franklin. Opponents muster just 298.4 yards per game. Still, the Spartans are one of the better Power 5 teams in the red zone, putting up points in 89.5 percent of their visits. Penn State wins 31-21. Take the points with the visitors.

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Striping Out Beaver Stadium in 7⃣ Days!

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— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) October 6, 2018
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Around The Big Ten (All Games Saturday)

Nebraska at Northwestern (-8.5), noon ET, on ABC

Northwestern (2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS) is celebrated as a perennial dark horse, leading the nation in outright underdog wins (29) since 2006 when head coach Pat Fitzgerald took over the program. Nevertheless, take note that the Wildcats have won and covered the spread in 10 of their last 11 as betting favorites against conference foes.

Minnesota at No. 3 Ohio State (-29.5), noon ET, on FS1

Ohio State (6-0 SU, 3-3 ATS) has put up 62, 52, 52, and 49 points against the last four unranked Big Ten opponents to enter The Shoe. Minnesota (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS), meanwhile, averages 8.8 points per game when catching more than touchdown on the college football oddsboard over the last three seasons.

Iowa (-5.5) at Indiana, noon ET, on ESPN2

Iowa (4-1 SU, 5-1 ATS) is 14-1-1 ATS in their last 16 as road chalk dating back to October 2011. The Hawkeyes are covering a -6.4 average line by 9.7 points per game.

Rutgers at Maryland (-23), noon ET, on BTN

Since 2016, when head coach Chris Ash control of Rutgers (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS), the program averages just 12.2 and surrenders 40.8 points per game on the road. The Scarlet Knights come up 3.7 points shy of their projected team total in this span, scoring more than 17 in a game twice. Maryland (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS), for what it’s worth, has covered the spread in 17 of 20 games holding teams to fewer than three touchdowns since joining the Big Ten.

Purdue (-10) at Illinois, at 3:30 p.m. ET, on FS1

Since 2015, Illinois (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) is 1-21 SU and 7-15 ATS against Big Ten rivals that allow fewer than 30 points per game entering a matchup. The Illini score 12.7 per game. Purdue (2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS) currently yields 26.4 per contest.

No. 15 Wisconsin at No. 12 Michigan (-6.5), 7:30 p.m. ET, on ABC

Since 1995, home teams in ranked Big Ten matchups are 25-5 SU and 17-11-2 ATS (60.7 percent) when lower in the polls than their opponents. Michigan (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS) enters No. 12 to No. 15 for Wisconsin (4-1 SU, 1-4 ATS).

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