After last week’s stunning upset over Ohio State, the Purdue Boilermakers will try to keep things rolling as they hit the road to play the Michigan State Spartans. Kickoff is scheduled for noon EST on Saturday, October 27, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. Fans can watch the game on ESPN.
This game opened as a PK, but early betting has made Michigan State 2-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 51 points. Click here to check out a full list of this week’s college football betting odds and game previews.
The Boilermakers are no doubt beaming after last week’s 49-20 upset over Ohio State. At first glance, that result may look like a fluke, but it’s really not. Since starting the season 0-3, the Boilermakers have been playing great football. It started with a win over Boston College, who was a top-25 team at the time and continued with comfortable road wins against both Nebraska and Illinois.
Purdue is now 4-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play, making them one of four teams in the Big Ten West division with just one loss in league play. That makes the Boilermakers legitimate threats to win the West division and play in the Big Ten title game. If nothing else, Purdue is just two wins away from going to a bowl game for the second straight season. That alone would be a great accomplishment and something that would be within their grasp if they can beat Michigan State on Saturday.
The Spartans, meanwhile, have to rebound from an emotional low after last week’s 21-7 loss to Michigan. MSU also had a disappointing home loss earlier this month against Northwestern. Even with a road win against Penn State sandwiched in between those two losses, the Spartans aren’t particularly happy about how this season has unfolded for them.
At 4-3 and 2-2 in Big Ten play, the Spartans must resign themselves to securing a bowl bid and playing the role of spoiler. After the Spartans went 3-9 just a couple of years ago, they aren’t likely to take anything for granted, so they know they’ll have to find a way to bounce back from last week’s loss and finish out the season strong.
Michigan State also has a 7-game winning streak against Purdue to keep intact. These two teams haven’t met since 2015, and the Boilermakers haven’t beaten the Spartans since 2006, the year before Mark Dantonio took over in East Lansing. Dantonio will surely want to stay perfect against Purdue, especially if it means putting last week’s loss behind him.
For a program like Purdue that hasn’t had a lot of big wins, it’s not always a given that they can stay focused after a huge upset. But I’m going to choose to believe in the Boilermakers. They’ve been a completely different team in October than they were in September. I think the team they’ve been in October is good enough to beat a Michigan State team that has a lot of issues right now. I’ll take a chance on Purdue winning on the road.
Michigan State’s latest problem involves quarterback Brian Lewerke. Unbeknownst to all of us, he hurt his shoulder against Penn State, causing serious problems with his accuracy against Michigan, as he completed just five of his 25 passes. Dantonio isn’t going to reveal until game time on Saturday if Lewerke is going to play or if the Spartans will have to rely on untested freshman Rocky Lombardi. Even if Lewerke does play, it’s anybody’s guess how healthy he’ll be against Purdue.
The questions surrounding Lewerke will exacerbate MSU’s problems running the ball, which have existed all season. Even with L.J. Scott returning from injury last week, there’s no guarantee the Spartans will be able to run the ball against Purdue. On the season, Michigan State is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. Regardless of who plays quarterback, the Spartans will have to rely more on their running game this week. However, focusing their efforts on running the ball may not be a winning formula right now.
Michigan State’s saving grace is their defense. They’ve been particularly good against the run, which is always key in the Big Ten. In their seven games, only two teams have managed to score more than 21 points against Michigan State, which means their defense is good enough to keep them within striking distance no matter who they play.
Of course, the Purdue offense continues to score points at a high volume. They’ve scored over 40 points in each of the last three games. Quarterback David Blough has finally emerged as a big-time passer. During the team’s four-game winning streak, Blough is averaging close to 350 yards passing with 10 touchdowns and just one interception. Even if the MSU can slow down the Purdue running game, the Michigan State secondary will have their hands full.
It’s always tough to pick against Michigan State, especially when the Spartans are at home. But considering all of their problems and the uncertainty with Lewerke’s health, I don’t feel comfortable picking them in this game. I think Purdue is for real, and I’ll lean toward the Boilermakers to win again this week.