The No. 12 Michigan State Spartans will attempt to finish their regular-season schedule on a high note against the Penn State Nittany Lions, but will have to overcome a "pretty bad" outbreak of the flu, according to ESPN's Adam Rittenberg.
Rittenberg said every recent day has "added to the list of players fighting flu symptoms" and that linemen on both sides of the ball are among those affected. Brett McMurphy of Action Network said the Spartans might be without as many as 20 players and eight starters due to the outbreak.
Michigan State is attempting to bounce back from a disappointing blowout loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes that erased any hope of qualifying for the College Football Playoff. The Spartans entered the game No. 7 in the CFB Playoff rankings but were dominated in a 56-7 loss that vaulted the Buckeyes from No. 4 to No. 2 in the rankings.
Penn State was No. 4 in the AP Poll earlier in the 2021 season, but consecutive losses to Iowa, Illinois and Ohio State in October dropped the team out of the rankings. A week ago, the Nittany Lions beat Rutgers, 28-0, despite being without more than 20 players due to a flu outbreak of their own.
"It looked like a hospital ward in there," Penn State coach James Franklin said after the win, via ESPN. "There was IVs everywhere. Friday was the same way; we didn't have a scholarship quarterback at Friday's practice. We weren't sure what was going to happen."