Predictions for every game of the MSU season
Lansing State Journal columnist Graham Couch predicts Michigan’s football season in every game.
GAME 1: SEPT. 3 NORTHWEST, 9 P.M., ESPN
Usually, I don’t like opening conference games. It is unnatural and against the crescendo of the college football season to withdraw from the conference game once it has started. But Northwestern is the perfect measuring stick for this MSU football team this year. The forerunners can lie to you – see Michigan’s victory over Minnesota last year – because you have no idea how good the teams are. Northwestern, however, provides an annual skill base and a relatively consistent level of average talent that should help MSU keep track of where it stands. The Wildcats are still slight favorites, but there’s not much to suggest that the ‘Cats are the most talented team and, given their rotation in attack, they could very well be less. explosives than the Spartans. Add to that questions at QB, where Clemson’s unproven transfer Hunter Johnson takes over, and the fact that Ryan Field is hardly an advantage on the pitch, and I don’t see Northwestern as real favorites here. . MSU, I think, will be able to field a fairly solid starting 22. Depth might become an issue in some places later. In week 1, this will not be the case.
Do it: MSU 27, northwest 23
GAME 2: SEPT. 11 VS. YOUNGSTOWN STATE, MIDI, BTN
The Missouri Valley Conference summit is not that different from the Mid-American Conference summit, although it is technically a lower tier (FCS). Unfortunately for Youngstown State this season, the Penguins aren’t expected to be near the top of the MVC, after a spring season 1-6 in which they were the league’s worst statistical offense, dropping just 100 yards per game. They actually have a decent talent on offense, it seems, if they can get a better quarterback game. It could be a midday kickoff, but don’t expect a sleepy effort from the Spartans, who will play in front of their home fans for the first time in 21 months. It could be the only comfortable win on the schedule.
Do it: MSU 41, Youngstown State 10
GAME 3: SEPT. 18 IN MIAMI, MIDI, ABC / ESPN
Whoever put this game at noon is a jerk. What could have been a frenetic late afternoon or nighttime atmosphere, will likely be a dim, sunny Hard Rock Stadium instead. The Hurricanes are a popular choice for having a big season. In recent times, they have generally under-realized similar expectations. All eyes will be on Heisman QB Trophy candidate D’Eriq King, who tore his ACL in his right knee on December 29. By the time this game takes place, Miami will have faced Alabama and Appalachian State. We’ll know if this team is real and if King is 100%. There are a number of questions on this Hurricanes roster and several new defensive coaches. If the hype is deserved, much of it is on King’s back. I think the midday kick-off is benefiting MSU. He’s an interesting opponent and trip, so you’re unlikely to see a sleepy Spartans start. We will see for the ‘Cannes.
Do it: Miami 33, MSU 24
GAME 4: SEPT. 25 against. NEBRASKA, to be determined, to be determined
It could be a swing game in MSU’s season – an imperfect but capable opponent, a week after a tough road trip, a blow to a schedule with at least four more dates where the Spartans will be the underdog. The Huskers are a veteran team up front and defensively, also with a quarterback in Adrien Martinez who has been in the league for some time. MSU last faced him in a freshman in a nasty 2018 9-6 loss to Lincoln. Martinez is a weapon on the ground and just “eh” as a smuggler. If the Huskers’ big offensive line can impose its will this season, things will be fine offensively. Otherwise, they’re in trouble, given a brutal schedule, which includes a clash with Oklahoma the week before traveling to East Lansing and divisional crossover games against Michigan and Ohio State. If MSU loses here and the struggles are on the offensive side, you’ll see a different quarterback next week against Western Kentucky. If Nebraska loses, given their upcoming schedule, it could be the start of the end of the era of Coach Scott Frost.
Do it: Nebraska 30, MSU 27
THU 5: OCT. 2 VS. WESTERN KENTUCKY, 7:30 p.m., TBD
A night game at Spartan Stadium at the end of September, a new starting quarterback, a semi-interesting opponent. attack the last time he played a full season. The transfers all followed the new QB coach and Hilltoppers offensive coordinator in western Kentucky. The infusion of talent and offensive ideas is necessary. Western Kentucky was painful to watch on offense last season. It’s a good mid-major program, historically, and not necessarily a gift for the Spartans. But MSU, with the emotional jolt of a new QB under center and with better weapons elsewhere on offense, has too much firepower.
Make: MSU: 38, Western Kentucky 27
THU 6: OCT. 9 AT RUTGERS, MIDI, TBD
The Spartans will not take Greg Schiano’s sophomore schedule lightly after what happened last season at Spartan Stadium. Rutgers sacked most of his starters from a year ago, including his entire offensive line. I think these two programs will be on similar tracks as they try to move up through the ranks in the Eastern Division of the Big Ten. Another swing game in the Spartans season and a physical battle at Piscataway. This one is remembered as the day Jayden Reed caught 20 assists in a single game.
Do it: MSU 34, Rutgers 26
THU 7: OCT. 16 AT INDIANA, NOON, TBD
There may not be a quintessential college town in the country on a Saturday in mid-October than Bloomington, Indiana. If you can make the trip, you should. Usually that also means a winnable game for the opponent Indiana. But this is another Hoosiers football program, with talent, speed and arrogance. Last season was a pretty charmed season, until Michael Penix Jr.’s knee injury. When in good health, he’s an NFL QB. I don’t know if he can stay healthy. Unless Indiana really rolls, the Spartans stand a chance here. My gut says this is an upheaval for MSU and, after three straight wins, the highlight of the season, as the Spartans are in the top 25 at 5-2.
Make: MSU 30, Indiana 28
THU 8: OCT. 30 against. MICHIGAN, to be determined, to be determined
MSU may be on the right track and coming out of a goodbye, but this rivalry doesn’t think much of easy analysis. The Spartans punched the Wolverines in the mouth last season and sent their season into a spiral. They will really want this game. It will be a better year for Michigan after waking up from last season. I don’t think there is a significant talent difference between these two teams. But my considerable gut – back in August – says it works with Michigan, that the Wolverines have improved the QB game, and that MSU is starting to see some of their depth concerns manifest at this point in the season. And Jim Harbaugh cools his hot seat for a few weeks.
Do it: Michigan 25, MSU 20
THU 9: NOV. 6 TO PURDUE, To be determined, To be determined
The sparkle comes from the Jeff Brohm era at Purdue. But that does not mean that the man cannot lead the attack like few others. I think the Boilermakers are going to be competitive this year. Purdue couldn’t throw the ball last season, however, and might not be much better this year. It’s the kind of game that will help define the Mel Tucker era – the games of the week after rivalry games. Mark Dantonio won many of those games the following week. Keon Coleman captures his first touchdown pass. The Spartans are eligible for the bowl.
Do it: MSU 33, Purdue 31
THU 10: NOV. 13 VS. MARYLAND, to be determined, to be determined
I have no faith in Maryland’s football program, although everything I read suggests they have talent to spare, especially on offense. If this is the year it meets and holds on in November, the Big Ten’s Eastern Division will truly be the most ruthless division in college football. By this point Maryland will have faced Iowa, Ohio State, Indiana, and a week earlier, Penn State, so we’ll know the truth about the Terps. For the Spartans, with Ohio State and Penn State on the horizon, this is their best shot at a Year 2 winning season under Tucker.
Do it: MSU 27, Maryland 21
THU 11: NOV. 20 IN OHIO STATE, TBD, TBD
I think this MSU team will be better equipped to counter a superior team as it takes a bit of offensive juice and these Spartans might have more of it than their recent predecessors. But Ohio State is a different kind of beast. And, at this point in the season, depth will be an issue for the Spartans. If MSU is lucky, the Buckeyes turn to the Wolverines the following week. Just being relatively competitive would be a win for the Spartans, who first scored in Columbus on Jalen Hunt’s 84-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Do it: Ohio State 38, MSU 14
THU 12: NOV. 27 VS. PENN STATUS, TBD TBD
MSU is expected to end each season against Penn State. This rivalry was in progress before the Big Ten stepped over it. If Penn State gets a decent quarterback game, I think the Nittany Lions will be one of the most improved teams in college football. But they are not out of the MSU league. Not with MSU at home and playing for a New Years game of bowls. This frosty Thanksgiving weekend game in the middle of the deer hunting season may be uncrowded, but it will mean something to both. teams. Anthony Russo steps in and throws four touchdown passes.
Make: Penn State: 31, MSU 28
Final regular season record: 7-5 overall, 5-4 Big Ten
Contact Graham Couch at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.