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Big 10 CFB Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan State Spartans: Start Time, Spread, Free Pick

Michigan State Spartans Vs. Northwestern Wildcats: 11/17/12 Steve's Free College Football Pick Against the Spread

Big 10 football and we will see the Northwestern Wildcats travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans. The game is scheduled for a 12:00 PM (Eastern) start time and it will be televised live on ESPN2. Currently the odds for the game have Michigan State favored by 7 points, while the total sits at 46. Check out Sportsbook Spy to find out what side the Public is taking on all today's games.

Free Analysis: With seven wins on the year, Northwestern has already qualified for postseason play. But after starting the season 5-0 and climbing into the national rankings, the team has spent the past month alternating wins and losses from week to week. The Wildcats are coming off a 38-31 overtime loss at Michigan this past Saturday. Northwestern enters this tilt ranked 14th in the nation in rushing offense (238.6 ypg) but are 110th in passing offense (164.9 ypg). Coach Pat Fitzgerald has divvied up the quarterback reps between dual-threat junior Kain Colter and sophomore Trevor Siemian, the more traditional pocket passer, with mixed results. Last week at Michigan, Kolter completed 8-of-14 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown, while also running for 82 yards on 24 carries. Siemian completed 6-of-7 passes for only 87 yards, but two of his six completions resulted in touchdowns. Venric Mark, the Big Ten's fourth-leading rusher (118.1 ypg), added 104 yards and a TD on the ground, marking his seventh 100- yard rushing game of the season. All told, NW put up 431 total yards against a Michigan defense that entered the game ranked seventh nationally in total defense. The defense has been an issue for the Wildcats this season, and that continued this past weekend as the Wolverines got their offense rolling in the second half to close the gap and eventually upend the Wildcats.

Michigan State will have had two weeks to prepare for this contest, as the team had a bye this past week. The break came at just the right time for the Spartans, who have dropped three of their last four outings. Most recently, they suffered a 28-24 home setback to Legends Division leader Nebraska two weekends ago. The good news for the Spartans coming out of their last contest is that they finally cracked the 20-point barrier for the first time in four games. The bad news is that they still didn't score enough points against Nebraska to come away with the win. The Spartans have boasted one of the nation's stingiest defenses throughout the season, but they currently rank 108th nationally in scoring offense with an average of 19.7 ppg. When you consider that MSU has the Big Ten's leading rusher in Le'Veon Bell (124.9 ypg), the team's struggles to put points on the board become even more magnified. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell has completed only 54.2 percent of his throws this season, as he has been mostly unable to make defenses pay for stacking the box. As mentioned, Michigan State's defense is hardly to blame for the team's hot- and-cold season. The unit leads the Big Ten and ranks among the national leaders in both total defense (288.0 ypg allowed) and scoring defense (16.3 ppg). In fact, Nebraska was only the second opponent this season to put more than 20 points on the board against the Spartans.

Free Pick: Im going to take a stab at the under in this one. Michigan State was in a higher than normal scoring game in their last game, which was vs Nebraska. There was 52 points scored in the game, but prior to that just 1 of their previous 7 games saw more than 35 points scored in a game. This State defense has been very tough all year, allowing just 288 ypg and 16.3 ppg on the year. At home they have allowed 300 ypg and 17.3 ppg, while their home games overall have averaged just 34 ppg. This defense can slow down a good Northwestern offense enough to keep them from scoring too many. The Wildcat defense is not all that strong, but MSU is not an explosive offense and will not put up a ton of points here. Both teams will have all sorts of problems scoring in this one.  

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