Michigan State went from .500 football to nationally relevant in just one year’s time. Now the quest to keep up that national reputation is on. With plenty of parts returning many see the Spartans as a potential favorite to win the Big Ten again.
But, as the debate rages on in the hours leading up to kickoff let’s settle it once and for all. Here is your look at how we see Michigan State’s season playing out.
Aug. 29 – vs. Jacksonville State: WIN
Seriously, Michigan State better win this one by a ton or it may not be as good a season as most think. Look for Connor Cook to play the first half and the game to be wrapped up early in the 3rd quarter before he and the rest of the Spartans starters make way for the backups. Spartans by 35 at least.
Sept. 6 – at Oregon: LOSS
History says this is going to be a loss, it’s just what the majority of Big Ten teams do when traveling out to the Pac-12 and vice versa with the West Coasters. Yet this is perhaps the most telling matchup of the entire non-conference season. If the Spartans can go to Eugene, Ore. and take down the Ducks it will speak volumes of where MSU is on the national scale. Unfortunately I don’t see the defense matching up well against Marcus Mariota, who is a better passer and runner than Braxton Miller and MSU was barely able to do enough to contain him in the Big Ten championship game. Ducks win a close one.
Sept. 20 – vs. Eastern Michigan: WIN
Eastern Michigan may be getting better, but t’s a long way up from the bottom of FBS to being competitive against a Big Ten championship-caliber team. The Eagles are going to be in for a major beat down in this contest. I see this playing out a lot like the Jacksonville State game did.
Sept. 27 – vs. Wyoming: WIN
Wyoming’s new head coach, Craig Bohl wasn’t afraid of the Big Ten while at North Dakota State and he won’t be now that he’s at Wyoming. Unfortunately his Bison teams likely could’ve beaten Wyoming as well, and the Cowboys have a lot of improving to do before being on MSU’s level. Don’t be surprised if this is the closest of the non-conference games though because Bohl can flat out coach him some football.
Oct. 4 – vs. Nebraska: WIN
Nothing like jumping in to the deep end in Big Ten play, and that’s exactly what the Spartans will do. At least this one is at home, and these two former division rivals are likely to put on one heck of a defensive showcase in this one. However, I see the Spartans passing game as being more advanced, and with it at home it’s hard to see how MSU loses this one. It could happen, but I just don’t see it playing out that way. Look for a 7-10 win for MSU.
Oct. 11 – at Purdue: WIN
While MSU got in on the deep end of the pool, it managed to swim to the safety of the 4-foot section with a trip to Purdue as a reward for victory over Nebraska. Purdue is going to be better than it was in 2013, but Michigan State is likely to be just as good as it was too. It’s hard to see a way Purdue’s offense has enough to overpower MSU’s defensive front seven, so look for that to be the difference maker in a three to four touchdown win for the Spartans.
Oct. 18 – at Indiana: WIN
Two weeks in a row to Indiana has to feel like punishment for ruining the national championship hopes for the Big Ten last season. We all know Indiana and MSU are going to likely sling this one all over the park, and if last year’s matchup taught us anything it’s that Michigan State’s pass game can hang with the best of ’em. Look for this to be Cook’s most productive game to date, and for Sparty to walk away with a hard earned victory.
Oct. 25 – vs. Michigan: WIN
Little Brother is all grown up and making “big brother” feel a little bit less about themselves as of late. There’s nothing nice about this in-state rivalry since the roles have reversed, and 2014 shouldn’t be any different as Michigan will look to prove a lot of doubters wrong by pulling off a road win in the series. Unfortunately for them, Michigan State can match anything and everything Michigan wants to do — and can often do it better. MSU’s offensive line makes all the difference, as it’s another close one until late.
Nov. 8 – vs. Ohio State: WIN
At least the Spartans get a week off before taking on Ohio State, otherwise that would be some brutal stuff from the Big Ten scheduling office. Having this game at home is also important because winning in Columbus isn’t an easy thing to do for any team. For me it all comes down to the fact that Ohio State lost its dynamic playmaker that could win them this road game. With Braxton Miller it’s a loss for the home team, but no revenge will be had on this day in East Lansing.
Nov. 15 – at Maryland: WIN
Going to a new place can always be a bit tricky, and so can playing a Randy Edsall offense. Problem is, Michigan State has a $1 million defensive coordinator on staff to figure that tricky stuff out. He also happens to have a loaded group of players to help him with that plan. As much as Maryland could surprise some people, C.J. Brown isn’t consistent enough to win it for me. Michigan State keeps rolling towards clinching the Big Ten East.
Nov. 22 – vs. Rutgers: WIN
Rutgers did a very un-Big Ten like thing last night and took down Washington State, but let’s not jump to conclusions too fast here. The Scarlet Knights won thanks to some opportune defense and ball control offense. It isn’t going to be that easy against anyone in the Big Ten, let alone a reigning conference champion with six conference wins under its belt heading in to this contest. Connor Cook vs. Gary Nova? I’m going Connor Cook all day, every day.
Nov. 29 – at Penn State: WIN
Penn State and Michigan State play for the Land-Grant Trophy…so that’s something. Nothing about this game should be taken lightly though, especially with it being played in Happy Valley. This will likely be the best quarterback matchup of the entire season between PSU’s Hackenberg and MSU’s Cook. The difference is Hackenberg will make more mistakes against a very talented MSU secondary. Look for a 4-10 point win as MSU scores a late touchdown to seal victory.
Overall Record: 11-1
Big Ten Record: 8-0