Michigan State -1.5 5.5% POD
This Michigan State team has a huge chip on their shoulder as they feel slighted for not being picked for the New Year's Day Outback Bowl. instead their rival who they beat, Michigan was chosen. I think they will give it their best to win and dominate this game and I think they can over a Washington team that has plenty of holes.
First of all we need to bring up Washington State's game last year against Minnesota team that had 10 guys suspended or more yet they were unable to win losing 12-17. The previous two years they played in 3 point games against Rutgers so Washington has struggled in the Leach era against the Big Ten. Leach is actually only 4-8 ATS in bowl games and goes up against Dantonio who is a very good coach and will have his team ready for this game.
Aside from the motivation I like the match-up here for Michigan State who rank #10 in pass defense and won't have to worry much about a rushing offense as Washington State ranks 129th in the nation in rushing offense. Luke Falk, QB at Washington State will have his hands full here against a press man to man coverage. He'll also be missing his top 2 WR for this game.
For MIchigan State's offense it's all about QB Brian Lewerke. I think Lewerke was a bit banged up at the end of the year, but he is a guy who threw for over 885 yards in two games against very good defenses in Northwestern #26th in YPP allowed and Penn State 22nd in YPP allowed. He really only had one bad game against Ohio State on the road in a very bad spot. I would not be surprised to see Michigan State come out throwing against Washington State who will be without their best defensive player in Hercules Maat'fa for the first half for a suspension. They can then use their size late to wear down Washington State's smaller defensive front. Washington State #58 in rushing ypc defense. Michigan State's 3 losses came against very good run defenses ranking #19 on average. When they can run the ball they typically win and Washington showed it in the Apple Cup that Washington State struggles against a well coached physical style opponent.
There are other factors I like here as Washington State has the #115 special teams and have turned the ball over 29 times this season. I thought Washington State's defense carried them this year and should keep this game close, but Falk will have some mistakes and they will continue to struggle in these type of match-ups.
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