Michigan State football: Spartans with plenty to prove against Maryland

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Michigan State football will look to release some frustration on the Maryland Terrapin in East Lansing Saturday afternoon.

Head coach Mel Tucker’s crew is coming off of a disappointing loss a week ago to Big Ten rival Purdue just a week after an impressive, emotional victory over their archrival Michigan Wolverines.  The emotional letdown cost the Spartans a spot they maintained for just one week in the top four with a chance to compete for a National Championship.

Now, Michigan State football certainly still has college football playoff aspirations, but they will be forced to win out the rest of the way.

The Spartans will take to the field Saturday afternoon. They are also frustrated by the fact they are ranked 7th in the country, one spot behind a Michigan team they beat just a couple of weeks ago despite having the same 8-1 overall record going into the day.

The Terrapin enters the day a week after being trounced by Penn State a week ago to the tune of 31-14.

Michigan State football needs Payton Thorne to be more consistent down the stretch.

Maryland is led by a familiar name at quarterback in Taulia Tagovailoa.  The Alabama transfer is indeed the younger brother of the once highly touted Tua Tagovailoa.  Taulia is not nearly as highly regarded as his older brother, but the junior signal-caller is still enjoying an impressive season.

Tagavailoa is completing a stellar 70.5% of his pass attempts averaging 8.1 yards per attempt. He’s totaled 2,755 passing yards this season, along with 18 touchdowns to nine interceptions.

That’s extremely impressive, and in comparison, Michigan State football’s starting quarterback Payton Thorne is averaging 8.9 yards per attempt only completing 62.1% of his passes.  Also, Thorne has a plethora of talented receivers at his disposal, and I’d like to see that number sitting around 66-68%.  Thorne has totaled 2,173 yards and 17 touchdowns to seven interceptions.

The Spartans pride themselves on running the football behind their Heisman Trophy candidate Kenneth Walker III. Still, if Thorne can be a bit more efficient, the Spartans’ offense can become nearly unstoppable down the stretch.

Walker III is averaging a miraculous 6.8 yards per carry to back up his 15 rushing touchdowns and has amassed 1,340 rushing yards through nine games this season.  There is no doubt he’s the best pure runner in the nation and will likely be the first running back selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Michigan State football needs a better effort from their defense Saturday.

The Spartans are allowing 22.7 points per game this season which ranks them 45th in the country.  Tucker needs to shore up this defense over the next few weeks if they have hopes of making it into the postseason championship competition.

Last week Michigan State allowed the Boilermakers to convert on 11 of 18 third-down attempts. While the Spartans rank 45th in points allowed, they rank 100th in third-down defensive efficiency, allowing opponents to convert over 42% of the time.

Michigan State football odds and prediction vs. Maryland

WynnBET has Michigan State football favored in the one by 11.5 points with -110 odds each way.  When it comes to the Moneyline, it goes -480 to the Spartans and +380 to Maryland.  The Under/Over is set at 61.0 for this one.

I’ve got the Spartans winning this game but not covering the spread.  I feel Tucker’s crew will be playing angry and with something to prove, and Michigan State’s leaky defense allows me to bet the steep over as well.

Kenneth Walker III a Heisman Trophy candidate. dark. Next

This game has the makings of a shootout, and I’ve got the Spartans coming away with a 42-31 victory.