Game Preview: Penn State vs. Michigan State

Story posted October 10, 2018 in CommRadio, Sports by Mitch Broder

Michigan State (3-2, 1-1) will take on No. 8 Penn State (4-1, 1-1) at Beaver Stadium Saturday at 3:30 p.m. for Penn State’s homecoming and annual Stripe Out game.

Both teams come into the game this weekend following disappointing losses. For Penn State, it was a loss to the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes 27-26. For Michigan State, it was a poor showing at home against Northwestern, losing 29-19.

This match-up features two of the better quarterbacks in the Big Ten, in Trace McSorley for Penn State, and Brain Lewerke for Michigan State. However, it’s been a tale of two different seasons for these quarterbacks. McSorley came into the year considered by many as the best quarterback in the Big Ten, and so far he has not disappointed. McSorley has thrown for 1,049 yards, 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions, while also adding 410 yards on the ground and six rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile for Lerwerke, it’s been a tough season thus far. Although he’s thrown for 1,328 yards along with six touchdowns, he has also thrown six interceptions in five games and has a QBR of just 54.5, compared to last year when he posted a QBR of 70.4. 

The same narrative continues for both teams as well. Penn State came into the season with Big Ten championship aspirations and so far they have not disappointed. Penn State has looked dominant at times, and as mentioned earlier, its one loss was a one-point defeat by a top-five team in Ohio State. Michigan State came into this season with the same hopes of winning a Big Ten title after a strong comeback campaign in 2017 following a very rough 2016 season. However, Michigan State has not lived up to the pre-season hype they received. Instead, they look like a team that is fighting just to make it to a bowl game.

A big reason for the Spartans struggles this year has been injuries. Despite having one the most experienced rosters in all of college football, which included 21 returning starters from last season, the Spartans have caught the injury bug this season. Some notable players who have been injured for Michigan State this season include star running back L.J. Scott, Cody White, an All-Big Ten Freshman wide receiver from a season ago, and a three-year starter at left tackle in Cole Chewins. This has led to many young and inexperienced players on the Spartans having to play a significant role this season. 

A big match-up to look for in this game will be the Michigan State defense going up against the Penn State offense. The Spartans have the 28-ranked defense in college football that is allowing 339 yards per/game this season. Meanwhile, the Penn State offense comes into this game with a top-15 offense averaging 510 yards per/game. More specifically a player to watch is junior linebacker Joe Bachie, who is the leader of the Spartans’ defense. He will have the responsibility of spying Trace McSorley, who wreaked havoc on the Ohio State defense with his legs, as he rushed for 175 yards.

Another match-up to keep an eye on is defensive end Shareef Miller for Penn State going up against the Michigan State offensive line. Miller comes into to this game with three sacks on the season and the Nittany Lions’ best pass rusher. He goes up against a banged-up Spartans offensive line that has already allowed Brain Lewerke to be sacked 11 times thus far. Miller could have a big game this week.

One last match-up to look for will be MSU wide receiver Felton Davis III going up against Penn State’s Amani Oruwariye at cornerback. Davis is a big-bodied wide receiver who is a red zone threat as he had nine touchdowns a season ago and is Lewerke’s go-to-guy. Oruwariye has had a big season for the Nittany Lions this year, but this will probably be his toughest match-up yet.

It should be a very entertaining game this weekend as the Land Grant Trophy is on the line. A win for Michigan State could get their season back on track, and for Penn State, a win could further prove that they are one of the best in the Big Ten this year. We’ll see what happens on Saturday at 3:30 pm from Beaver Stadium.

Mitch Broder is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email