Michigan State (@1.25) vs Northwestern (@3.8)

Our Prediction:

Michigan State will win

Michigan State – Northwestern Match Prediction | 22-09-2019 12:00

The Wildcats are among the best in the league at defending the 3-point shot, holding opponents to 28 percent from long range. Northwestern update: The Wildcats can look really good and really bad. Senior forward Vic Law is third in the Big Ten in scoring at 18.9 points per game. Senior center Derek Pardon is fifth in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.8 per game). That much weve learned this season. Among the good, they handled Georgia Tech, lost at Indiana by two, lost to Michigan by two and fell to Oklahoma in overtime. Their most glaring team weakness is rebounding, with a margin of just plus-2.7, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten after an early schedule featuring mostly non-conference opponents.

Moton ran for 36 yards on 13 carries against U-M in his first career start and has 57 yards on 25 carries with two TDs this season. RB situation: Larkin remains Northwesterns leading rusher with 346 yards and five TDs in his four games. Finding someone to replace that production could take time. The Wildcats used three running backs against Michigan, including converted wide receiver Solomon Vault. He combined with John Moton IV and Isaiah Bowser to average 2.7 yards on 21 combined carries, which totaled56 yards.

MSU:Out: WR Cody White (left hand); P Jake Hartbarger (right leg); CB Tyson Smith (illness); CB Josiah Scott (left leg); Questionable:CB Josh Butler (undisclosed); RB LJ Scott (leg); FB Collin Lucas (head); RG Kevin Jarvis (right leg); WR Darrell Stewart Jr. (left ankle); WR Jalen Nailor (undisclosed); WR Cam Chambers (undisclosed); DE Dillon Alexander (right leg); DT Mufi Hill-Hunt (knee); TE Noah Davis (undisclosed); LB Ed Warriner (undisclosed); LB Chase Kline (undisclosed); OL James Ohonba (undisclosed); RB Alante Thomas (undisclosed); Probable: LT Cole Chewins (undisclosed injury); LG/LT Luke Campbell (right leg); LG David Beedle (leg).

Xavier Henderson, a first-year starter at strong safety, has an interception and two pass break-ups. The Spartans rank 48th in the nation in passing yards allowed at 192.7 and the secondary is led by a pair of three-year starters in cornerback Josiah Scott and free safety David Dowell. Cornerback Josh Butler was flagged for pass interference three times in the first two games and slipped in coverage last week, leading to a 40-yard reception that helped set up Arizona States game-winning touchdown.

Michigan State vs. Northwestern Prediction, Line

Thats not the formula to beat MSU, though, provided MSUs own offense scores a couple times. Northwesterns ground game has been OK thus far, ranking 52nd andaveraging184 yards per game, with Drake Anderson, the son of former Northwestern great Damien Anderson, rushing 26 times for 141 yards against UNLV. Johnson is a threat with his feet, too. Neither of them challenged MSU with a refined passing attack. To put into greater context how meek that is, Tulsa ranks 81st, Arizona State 67th. Northwesterns passing game, led by Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson, a former 5-star recruit, ranks 122nd out of 130 teams.

A year ago, Northwestern led the nation by losing just 25.9 yards per game on penalties. The Wildcats and Spartans are among the most flagged teams in the FBS MSUs 77.7 penalty yards rank 118th out of 130 schools, while Northwesterns 72.5 penalty yards is 108th. Penalty problems: Northwestern typically is a disciplined program that does not incur many penalties, but not this year.

However, now starting Big Ten play, the offense needs to show its capable of scoring more than one touchdown a game because that simply isnt good enough. The inability to finish drives and capitalize on scoring chances resulted in a loss and the pressure on the offense to deliver is now even greater. Offensive pressure: Michigan State finished with 404 yards of total offense, 23 first downs and crossed midfield on nine of 10 possessions against Arizona State, yet managed just seven points. Dantonio this week pointed out he won a national championship as a defensive coordinator at Ohio State with low-scoring victories and, if the Spartans have to win that way this season, they will.

Toughest challenge: Fitzgerald this week called Michigan States defense the best in the nation and thats not a good matchup for a Northwestern team that ranks 112th in the country in total offense at 325.5 yards per game. It will obviously be a challenge to move the ball on the ground against the Spartans and that will put pressure on Johnson to deliver. He will need to play the best game of his young career for the Wildcats to win and that will mean getting the ball out quickly and not allowing Michigan States pressure to get to him.

Wildcats quarterback Hunter Johnson hasnt gotten things clicking, and having a big-time game against this big-time defense seems unlikely. Chengelis: Just when it seemed Michigan State had figured out its offensive issues from the first game, they reappeared against Arizona State. The defense wasnt flawless last week, giving up that late fourth-and-long and eventual touchdown, but how can it be when so much is asked of it game to game? Northwesterns defense will even things a bit but not enough. There is still so much respect for the Michigan State defense, and if the Spartans can get any consistency from their offense, this is going to be a dangerous team in the East. Angelique S.