Free Press predictions: Will Michigan State football bounce back? Can Michigan get huge win?

Free Press sports writers go on the record with their predictions for Michigan football's game at Penn State and Michigan State football's home game against Maryland on Saturday:

Michigan at Penn State, noon ABC

Michael Cohen

This is one of those big games against a quality opponent that Harbaugh has struggled to win, and Michigan needs a victory to keep its hopes of a College Football Playoff berth alive. But the injury bug has finally bitten the Wolverines at the least opportune moment. U-M falls short in a close game. The pick: Penn State 31, Michigan 27.

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Rainer Sabin

The Wolverines are 1-5 in their last six games at Beaver Stadium, and this time they enter Happy Valley with a beat-up offense. But this Michigan team, which has performed well on the road, appears more resilient than previous editions. The defense should be the difference for the Wolverines against Penn State’s one-dimensional, pass-centric offense. The pick: Michigan 24, Penn State 23.

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Jeff Seidel

In Penn State’s last nine games against top-25 opponents with Sean Clifford as the starting QB, the Nittany Lions are 6-3. I know Michigan has a fantastic pass defense and the Wolverines might end up with four or five sacks. But Clifford is going to throw it 50 times and beat the Wolverines. The pick: Penn State 27, Michigan 24.

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Shawn Windsor

The Nittany Lions are talented and streaky, but they play the Wolverines well at home. U-M’s red zone struggles cost them. The pick: Penn State 23, Michigan 20.

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Michigan State vs. Maryland, 4 p.m. Fox

Rainer Sabin

The nation’s worst pass defense resides in East Lansing, which is a concern this week. Maryland, after all, averages 316 yards per game through the air with a 70.5% completion rate. But the Terrapins’ defense is a sieve, surrendering 30.4 points per game. Expect Payton Thorne and Kenneth Walker III to bolster their stat lines and carry MSU its ninth victory — setting up a high-stakes showdown against Ohio State the following week. The pick: Michigan State 35, Maryland 24.

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Jeff Seidel

The Spartans will bounce back from their loss against Purdue and win a wild shootout. The Spartans have exceeded the over in their last two games. And Maryland has done it three times in its last five games. So I expect to see more than 61 points in this one. The pick: Michigan State 41, Maryland 23.

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Chris Solari

The Spartans’ quick-strike approach and inability to sustain drives, coupled with their defensive issues and injuries, make this a showcase opportunity for offensive coordinator Jay Johnson to unleash his weapons. Expect Walker and Thorne to post big numbers to simply outscore the Terrapins as Taulia Tagovailoa continues the assault on MSU’s secondary. The pick: Michigan State 42, Maryland 33.

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Shawn Windsor

The Spartans pass defense is an issue that won’t get fixed in a week. But Mel Tucker aims to make changes in that area and that should be enough — that and Walker. The pick: Michigan State 29, Maryland 23.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Free Press predicts Michigan football, Michigan State games