Andy’s Insights: What to look for against Michigan State

Andys Insights

Spartans QB Brian Lewerke has had Penn State’s number the last two years and will once again play a key role

Penn State and head coach James Franklin will tell you this week is all about being 1-0, but we all know this road game at Michigan State is much more than that.

Sparty has registered back-to-back victories over the Nittany Lions and each of those losses did some serious damage to Penn State’s season.

The weird part about those losses is they were so different than most Penn State setbacks under Franklin. In each game the Nittany Lions were the better team, could not bury Michigan State and were unable to score in the fourth quarter.

You get the feeling Penn State owes Michigan State one, but at the same time there’s the uneasy feeling that the Spartans and head coach Mark Dantonio have the Nittany Lions’ number.

There’s a lot of unrest in East Lansing as the No. 6 Nittany Lions come calling. Dantonio is taking some serious heat, the Spartans are 4-3 overall and have been blown out in the last two games by Ohio State and Wisconsin. All this from a team that brought back the most starters and regulars in the Big Ten.

And Brian Lewerke is still Michigan State’s quarterback.

Somehow Lewerke has managed to get worse with each passing year since he lit up Penn State for 400-plus yards in the rain in 2017.

And he’s not having a great 2019. But somehow when it comes to playing Penn State none of that matters. Lewerke saves his absolute best for the Nittany Lions. And that doesn’t bode well for a Penn State team that saw the Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett and Michigan QB Shea Patterson play their best games of the season against the Nittany Lions.

There’s plenty to be concerned about for this 3:30 kickoff at Spartan Stadium.

This game is all about Lewerke and whether or not he becomes the third quarterback to have his best game of the season against Penn State.

His No. 1 target is Darrell Stewart Jr., a very capable wideout with a trio of 100-yard games already under his belt. This is where Penn State corners need to be difference makers and slow down this passing game. Tariq Castro-Fields and John Reid are under my Penn State microscope.

The offensive line gives Lewerke time and he’s not been sacked very often this season. Given time to throw, he’ll be looking for Stewart early and often.

Scoring points against quality opponents has been a real problem for Michigan State. Penn State has a Top 5 scoring and rushing defense. That has to show up on Saturday.

Tough road games where the other team has enjoyed more success recently than their talent tells you it should is what we call a trap game. Penn State is the better and more talented team. But on the road it will be up to this defense to make sure Lewerke doesn’t make it three straight for the Spartans.