When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Spartan Stadium (75,005).
TV: ABC (Sean McDonough play-by-play, Todd Blackledge color, Molly McGrath sideline).
2021 records: Michigan State is 9-3, 6-2 Big Ten. Penn State is 7-4, 4-4.
Last week: Michigan State lost 56-7 to Ohio State. Penn State beat Rutgers 28-0.
Series and last meeting: The series is tied, 17-17-1. Penn State won the last meeting, 39-24, Dec. 12, 2020 at Beaver Stadium.
Coach: Mel Tucker, third season overall (16-14), second season at Michigan State (11-7).
Michigan State’s best player: RB Kenneth Walker.
Quotable: James Franklin on the Land Grant Trophy: “We take a lot of pride in keeping the most beautiful trophy in college football home. It’s beautiful because of how unorthodox it is, … it’s cool.”
"It's like your great-uncle made it in a workshop with leftover parts."
Injury update: Both teams have dealt with flu outbreaks in addition to the bumps and bruises that are typical 12 weeks into the season. About a half-dozen Michigan State players, most notably WR Jayden Reed, are listed as questionable.
Penn State is in a similar situation, but with fewer known questionables. Starting QB Sean Clifford practiced this week, after leaving the Rutgers game due to flu-related weakness. LB Curtis Jacobs, and OLs Mike Miranda and Rasheed Wallace, also missed Rutgers due to the flu and are questionable.
Las Vegas says: Penn State is a 1.5-point favorite. The line opened at Michigan State -1.
Outlook/notes: Michigan State was ranked third in the country in the first College Football Playoff committee rankings Nov. 2. The Spartans dropped to seventh after losing to Purdue, and to 12th after being pummeled 56-7 by Ohio State last week.
Like Penn State’s James Franklin, Tucker got a 10-year contract this week, Tucker’s for even more money than Franklin’s, $95 million. Tucker has been a head coach for three years, one at Colorado, and then a 2-5, COVID-shortened first year in East Lansing. He is a former defensive coordinator for both Nick Saban and Kirby Smart.
Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker has run for nearly 1,500 yards and was the difference in Michigan State’s best win, 37-33 over Michigan Oct. 30. The Spartans have lost two of three since then.
It’s hard to overstate how bad Michigan State’s pass defense has been, at least statistically. It has yielded not only 340 yards per game - 130th, or dead last, in the country - but 341 pass completions. That’s 31 a game, and the most in the country by seventy.
Prediction: Penn State 31, Michigan State 21.