Week 9 College Football Breakdown with Joe Lisi: Michigan State vs. Northwestern

Michigan State Spartans player in action

Joe Lisi

Friday, October 27, 2017 3:24 PM GMT

Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 3:24 PM GMT

Week 9 College Football breakdown with Joe Lisi: This is the companion article to Joe's picks on the Michigan State vs. Northwestern game on Saturday at 3:30 pm ET.

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Michigan State Spartans vs Northwestern Wildcats  

Line: MSU -2.0

Northwestern won this game last season 54-40 and scored the most points on Michigan State at home in East Lansing.

The Wildcats are coming off an impressive home win over Iowa and played well both offensively and defensively against the Hawkeyes.

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson is completing 60% of his passes for 1,688 yards with 8 touchdowns and 9 interceptions this year.

The Wildcats are averaging 256 passing yards per game and are rushing for 136 yards per game entering this contest. Over the past two weeks, the offense has shown an ability to run the football consistently which has led to manageable third downs for the team. The Wildcats rushed for 238 yards against Maryland and pounded the “rock” for 147 yards the last win against Iowa.

While Northwestern has converted 35% of their third downs, the offense has been very solid on fourth down attempts converting 13 of 22 opportunities. Last week against Iowa, the offense converted 3 of 6 fourth downs in the win.

Defensively, the front seven of the Wildcats has been playing very well. Northwestern held Iowa to 89 rushing yards and forced the Hawkeyes into long third down attempts. Over the past five games against Bowling Green (96), Wisconsin (109), Penn State (95), Maryland (85) and Iowa (89) the defense has allowed 94.8 rushing yards per game.

The defense held Iowa to 5 of 17 on third downs last week and will look to follow through against a Michigan State offense that has converted 17 of 57 (29%) third downs over the last four games.

Northwestern has recorded 11 total sacks over the past four games (2.7 per game) and held the last two opponents to 11 of 34 third downs (32%).

The Wildcats are giving up 121 rushing yards per game and are allowing 245 passing yards to opposing offenses this season.

Michigan State does have to face Penn State on November 4th which could factor into this game.

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