An early spin through MSU’s football season: A potentially mammoth finale at Penn State

This is the 12th and final entry in a 12-day series looking at Michigan State’s opponents this football season and their chances against the Spartans.

Week 12: At Penn State
Time and Date: TBA, Nov. 29
Venue: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa.

Nittany Lions at a glance
Coach: James Franklin (First season)
Last season: 7-5 overall, 4-4 Big Ten (3rd, Leaders Division)
Returning starters: Nine (three offense, six defense)

Preseason magazine predictions
Athlon: 10-2 overall, 6-2 Big Ten (3rd, East Division); ranked No. 22 nationally
Lindy’s: 4th Big Ten East; ranked No. 38th
Sporting News: 4th Big Ten East

Why they’ll beat the Spartans
Other than a win to clinch the share of the Big Ten title in 2010, MSU has had miserable experiences in Happy Valley. The Spartans are 1-8 there since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, with losses by 28, 23, 54, 24 and 31 points among the defeats — though this is a different era for both the Spartans and Nittany Lions.

Penn State may be hindered by scholarship limitations, but it has terrific players and strong position groups, notably sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg and a talented defensive line. That’s a good place to start for any team. Hackenberg was the Big Ten’s freshman of the year, passing for nearly 3,000 yards, 20 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Penn State’s top three running backs are back as well, bringing with them more than 2,000 yards rushing combined from last season.

Why they won’t
Depth and timing. MSU gets the Nittany Lions last. By now, with a roster short on scholarship players due to deep-cutting NCAA sanctions, Penn State will have endured almost an entire season.

Just as with Nebraska last season, it’s important MSU conquered its Happy Valley bugaboo in 2010. This staff and its older players — fifth-year seniors who were on that team — will know winning at Penn State has been done. They’ll be able to picture it.

The Nittany Lions also lost substantial high-end talent from last season, including star wideout Allen Robinson, twice the Big Ten’s receiver of the year, and longtime middle linebacker Glenn Carson.

Final analysis
It’s impossible to know the state of the minds, spirits and bodies of these two teams 11 games and more than three months from now. There’s a decent chance, however, MSU is playing this one for the right to play the following week in Indianapolis. For Penn State, it’ll once again be the final game of the season.

Previously …
Senior day against Rutgers on Nov. 22 – Damon Dowdell’s revenge
A venture into the new Big Ten, at Maryland on Nov. 15
Prime-time showdown with Buckeyes on Nov. 8
Desperate Wolverines visit on Oct. 25
A dangerous visit to Indiana on Oct. 18
Spartans look to avoid letdown at Purdue on Oct. 11
No easing into Big Ten play, as Huskers visit Oct. 4
Impressive new coach adds intrigue to Wyoming’s Sept. 27 visit
New coach, same EMU Eagles visit on Sept. 20
A telling test at Oregon on Sept. 6
Rose Bowl encore begins with Friday night lights vs. Jacksonville State on Aug. 29

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21 Responses to An early spin through MSU’s football season: A potentially mammoth finale at Penn State

  1. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    penn state should have been booted out of the conference by the money grubbing delany. they are a national disgrace.

  2. avatar Jmac says:

    Does Athlon actually hire college football experts to come up with their predictions? 10-2 for Penn State is extremely far fetched.

    The idea that James Franklin is a top tier head coach is getting a little tiresome too. He has much to prove, and they will greatly miss Bill O’brien. Somewhere around .500 is realistic. I would predict double digit losses to tOSU, UM, IU and MSU.

  3. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    could we get a new post please. I hate even seeing the name penn state.

  4. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    after all is said and done, it will be six seasons without us playing penn state at home. thanx to delany and hollis.

  5. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    leveon bell is a dope.

  6. avatar dmbtierney says:

    Mark Hollis had nothing to do with the schedule of any of the Big Ten games over the last six years. But, you are correct in saying that the Big Ten offices did. MSU only has control over non-conference games.

  7. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    did couch croak or something? why do i have to see the words penn state every day?

  8. avatar dmbtierney says:

    Betcha Couch got let go and the LSJ is too cheap to hire anyone else. Why else would a 3-week old post still be online?

  9. avatar dmbtierney says:

    Are MSU blogs shut down or what? Nothing in month. Surely, someone up there in Lansing has an answer. We don’t get squat down here in Toledo.

    Maybe I can get a conversation started. Sat on the tarmac in Detroit waiting for the storm to pass at 8:00 PM Friday night. Besides me, there were about 100 other MSU fans, Joe Rexrode and the MSU cheerleaders on the plane wondering if we would ever get to Portland. Obviously, we did. Been to Oregon twice now, and can’t say that I really like it

    Opinions–on anything?

  10. avatar NJ Rob says:

    Tough loss for MSU for sure, but it’s good to see the “2nd/3rd day” articles still giving MSU some love/respect, which they deserve. For me, I don’t see a single team out there capable of running the table. If there are 3 one loss teams and a few 2 loss teams, MSU can still get into the playoff…it’s just a waste to theorize. Line up for game 3 and take care of what can be controlled. Wish the team didn’t have a bye this upcoming week though…they need to get back up on the bike.

    • avatar dmbtierney says:

      Right now we have four or five guys that are hurting. The extra time off should get them back in the line-up sooner than if they had to play hurt. I like the week off.

  11. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    i think they have bailed out on these blogs. i have one question. was max bullough that smart or are these guys that dumb?

    • avatar dmbtierney says:

      What ticks my tush is there is no explanation whatsoever. If LSJ is dropping it, let your readers know. If they are going to continue, let us know. Don’t just sit there doing nothing, looking stupid. Did we out-of-towners miss some kind of announcement in the past?

  12. avatar dmbtierney says:

    Detroit Free Press sports blog took on a new format today. Maybe this is an omen for what’s to come at the LSJ, just biding time until the change takes place. BTW, don’t care for the new Freep format, looks too much like the Sports Illustrated site, which I hate. But it is faster to negotiate.

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