After what could very well be a 4-0 start for the Michigan State football team, the Spartans open up the Big Ten season in East Lansing against Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. A week later, the Spartans travel to Bloomington to play the Indiana Hoosiers before hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes the following weekend.
5. Ohio State @ Michigan State, Sept. 29, TBA
This was the game where the Spartan defense came to life last year, recording 13 tackles for loss, including nine sacks, and an interception in Michigan State’s 10-7 victory. The Buckeyes were held to a total of 178 yards, including 35 rushing yards, with their only score coming with 10 seconds left in the game. Ohio State returns 15 starters (6 offense, 9 defense) from last year’s 6-7 squad and will be ineligible for the postseason this year. The Buckeyes are right up there with the Spartans in terms of having the best defense in the Big Ten, and may have the best defensive tackle in the country in junior Johnathan Hankins. Offensively, Ohio State is led by last year’s Big Ten Freshman Player of the Year, Braxton Miller, and one of the better tight ends in the nation in senior Jake Stoneburner. We could see another low-scoring battle between these two teams because of the dominant defenses, but it will be exciting nonetheless. With two great defenses capable of preventing the run, this is a game where Andrew Maxwell will be put to the test. The Spartans may be able to get by the first four games without Maxwell fully in rhythm, but he will be needed in a game like this. Also keep in mind that the last time Ohio State played in Spartan Stadium was in 2008, a game in which the Buckeyes crushed Michigan State 45-7.
6. Michigan State @ Indiana, Oct. 6, 12:00 p.m.
On last year’s senior day for Michigan State, the Spartans absolutely annihilated the Hoosiers, winning by the score of 55-3. Indiana returns 15 starters (8 offense, 7 defense) from a team that only won one game last year, which was over an FCS opponent in South Carolina State. The strong point for the Hoosiers is in the middle of the defensive line, where they are led by seniors Larry Black and Adam Replogle. Offensively, their biggest weapon is junior Ted Bolser who is projected to be one of the better tight ends in the Big Ten. Bottom line, the Spartans dominate the Hoosiers in every category of football. It’s just about getting it done on the field.
7. Iowa @ Michigan State, Oct. 13, 12:00 p.m.
These two teams met late in the season last year at a time when the Legends Division title was up in the air. That being said, the Spartans came out and played their best first half all year long, leading 31-7 going into the locker room. Iowa, a football program that is always capable of competing for the Big Ten title, returns just 11 starters (6 offense, 5 defense) from last year’s 7-6 team. Senior quarterback James Vandenberg will lead the Hawkeyes after passing for over 3,000 yards last year and may have to produce more this year with the inexperience at the running back position. Defensively, Iowa has a solid linebacking corps with juniors James Morris and Christian Kirksey. They also have a couple of the best defensive backs in the game, with senior Micah Hyde at cornerback and junior Tanner Miller at free safety. This year, the Hawkeyes have a high possibility of traveling to East Lansing with a 5-0 record and a ton of confidence. The Spartans should be able to win the battle up front on both sides of the ball and control the time of possession. Michigan State, once again, will be expected to win this football game.
Seven games into the season, Michigan State has a great chance of being undefeated. While sixth-year head coach Mark Dantonio and company will be focused for each and every week, they will also have one eye on the clock in the locker room counting down until their game against Michigan. Stay tuned for Part III of this preseason segment, where I will explore everything that needs to be known about the rivalry game between the Spartans and Wolverines on Oct. 20.
Other Preseason Michigan State Football Articles: