Sean Clifford set to return against Spartans – The Athletic

On average, only two teams from a season’s first College Football poll top four wind up in the semifinals. Michigan State is going to wind up on the wrong side of that statistic after getting mowed over 56-7 at Ohio State. The Spartans’ leaky pass defense was even more porous than usual, giving up 449 passing yards and six touchdowns through the air. Ohio State found the end zone on each of its first seven drives. The MSU offense was no better, generating 224 total yards — with only 25 rushing from Kenneth Walker III – while holding the ball for just 22:02. Last week’s loss also eliminated the Spartans from Big Ten East contention. They’ll need a win against Penn State to have any shot at a New Year’s Six game.

MSU opened as 1.5-point favorites at home. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC.

Penn State’s season feels like one big ‘what-if’ moment, beginning with Sean Clifford’s injury at Iowa back in October, followed by a 9 OT loss to Illinois and close calls against Ohio State and Michigan. The Nittany Lions are still bowl eligible and improved to 7-4 with a 28-0 win over Rutgers, but these are well below the expectations of a preseason top-20 team. Against Rutgers, Clifford exited with an injury. Christian Veilleux stepped in and threw 235 yards and three touchdowns in the win. PSU won’t play for a conference title, but they will get one more chance to knock off a top-20 team when they visit Michigan State. The Nittany Lions have won the previous two meetings in the series.

Odds, Over/Under, Moneyline

Team Spread Total Moneyline

-1.5

52.5

-115

-105

Odds updated at 3:45 p.m. ET on Thursday. Click here for live odds.

Betting Trends

  • Penn State is 5-1 ATS on road in its last 6 games
  • Penn State is 8-2 ATS as favorites in its last 10 games
  • Penn State is 11-4 ATS in its last 15 games
  • The Over is 0-5 in the last 5 Penn State games
  • Michigan State is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games
  • Michigan State is 6-17-1 ATS at home in its last 24 games

Click here to learn more about The Athletic’s FREE betting contest with BetPrep.

Penn State-Michigan State storylines

‘Recruiting is where we’re going to close the gap’: Top targets on Michigan State’s board

Penn State’s peek at the future? Inside an unexpected flu-and-Veilleux game: ‘We’re a bunch of fighters’

Pouncy: Michigan State believes in Mel Tucker, but Ohio State game is a reminder that there’s work to do

Expert picks against the spread

Picks made at Michigan State -1.5

Pick

Dan Santaromita

Jason Starrett

Chris Vannini

Ari Wasserman

(Photo of Sean Clifford: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images; The Athletic may receive an affiliate commission if you open an account with BetMGM through links contained in the above article.)

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