MSU coach Mark Dantonio, speaking Tuesday, Nov. 22, looks ahead to the Spartans’ final game of the 2016 season against Penn State. Video by Chris Solari, DFP.
Free Press sports writer Chris Solari breaks down and predicts Saturday’s Michigan State-Penn State game.
Records: MSU 3-8, 1-7 Big Ten; No. 8 Penn State 9-2, 7-1.
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pennsylvania
TV/radio: ESPN; WJR-AM (760).
Line: Penn State by 12 1/2.
MSU: LB Jon Reschke (left ankle), QB Brian Lewerke (broken left tibia), Vayante Copeland (broken foot), OL Tyler Higby (broken ankle), out; DT Malik McDowell (ribs/left foot), CB Tyson Smith (undisclosed), CB Drake Martinez (undisclosed), LB Byron Bullough (undisclosed), DB Jalen Watts-Jackson (undisclosed), OL Thiyo Lukusa (undisclosed), S Matt Morrissey (undisclosed), DT Kevin Williams (undisclosed), DE Gabe Sherrod (undisclosed), questionable; CB Darian Hicks (arm), probable.
Penn State: LB Von Walker (undisclosed), OL Paris Palmer (knee), OL Chance Sorrell (knee), OL Andrew Nelson (leg), LB Jan Johnson (leg), TE Nick Bowers (undisclosed), LB Nyeem Wartman-White (knee), out; OL Brendan Mahon (leg/unspecified hospitalization), doubtful; OL Connor McGovern (undisclosed), questionable; RB Saquon Barkley (head), probable.
Five things to watch
Surging Scott: After gaining more than 200 yards in MSU’s first two games, LJ Scott started to fall out of favor after his costly fumble against Wisconsin that was returned for a touchdown. However, the sophomore has resumed his role as the Spartans’ go-to rusher. Scott had 100-plus yards and a rushing TD in four of the last five games, including 19 carries for a career-highs of 160 yards rushing and 76 receiving yards against No. 2 Ohio State. Now at 935 yards on 168 rushes, an average of 5.6 yards per carry, Scott needs just 65 yards against Penn State to become MSU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Jeremy Langford in 2014. He also has six scoring runs on the season.
►Related: MSU’s rushing offense has turned into a strength
Almost fearsome: During the recruiting process, coach Mark Dantonio dubbed his four freshmen defensive linemen – ends Josh King and Auston Robertson, and tackles Mike Panasiuk and Naquan Jones – the “Fearsome Foursome,” one of the most coveted monikers for a position group in football. Three of them have played this season, with Panasiuk putting together a seven-tackle, half-sack performance against Ohio State. Robertson forced a fumble in the game. They have company. Redshirt freshman Raequan Williams has developed into a solid interior lineman, while Robert Bowers has received two straight starts on the edge. MSU will lose three seniors next year, Evan Jones (DE) and graduate transfers Gabe Sherrod (DE) and Kevin Williams (DT).