Michigan and Michigan State will clash on the gridiron Saturday at Spartan Stadium. Kick off is set for 3:30 and the game will be televised on ABC. We’ve rolled out a ton of content for you, our readers, all week.
We asked all of our Michigan and Michigan State writers, along with our Big Ten Football guru, to predict the outcome of the game. Here are the prognostications.
Tyler Brochhagen Michigan Football correspondent, follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerBrochhagen
It’s no secret that Michigan has not performed well on the road under head coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines will be playing in an extremely hostile environment this Saturday.
How the young guys respond to this challenge will be key. Perhaps an even bigger factor will be how the coaches go about putting these players into a position to be successful. It’s going to take a complete team performance and minimal mistakes to win this game. I think Michigan has what it takes. Michigan 24, Michigan State 20.
Jameson Draper Michigan State Spartans correspondent, follow Jameson on Twitter @jamdraper
Michigan State, while not being a necessarily great team, has a huge edge on Michigan defensively. On offense, while not being as good as the Wolverines in the passing game, are pretty comparable in rushing offense. Add that to the fact that last year, Michigan State was a lot worse and Michigan was much better, but the final score was only 12-10 Michigan. I have trouble seeing the Wolverines pulling this one out. Michigan State wins 24-19.
James Edwards III Michigan State Spartans correspondent, follow James on Twitter @J_Edwards_MSU
Two words: matchup nightmare.
Despite being the 23rd-ranked team in the nation, the Michigan Wolverines are facing a 24th-ranked Michigan State Spartans team whose strengths are better than their own. The Wolverines are fifth in the Big Ten in total offense; the Spartans are first in the nation in total defense. Michigan is third in the conference in passing offense; Michigan State is first in the Big Ten in passing defense. Michigan QB Devin Gardner leads all Big Ten quarterbacks in interceptions (10), and the Spartans have the second best turnover margin in the Big Ten.
While MSU’s weakness is on the offensive side of the ball, not only have they played their best football over the past month — with the exception of the Purdue game — but they are playing a Michigan defense that has given up 20-plus points in five of their seven games this year. Gardner will make plays because of his athleticism, but I see him making too many mistakes in a packed Spartan Stadium. MSU wins 34-17.
Chad Godfrey Big Ten Football expert, follow Chad on Twitter @isportsChad
Michigan leads the all-time series with the Spartans 68-32-5. MSU has won four of the last five meetings and has won the last two games in East Lansing.
Yes, it is a rivalry and yes, you can throw out the records when Michigan and Michigan State get together. Throw them out when they play football, basketball, hockey, baseball, checkers or even lawn darts. Actually, having Michigan and Michigan State on the same field together with foot-long darts may not be one of the better ideas.
Just eyeballing these teams…MSU looks to be the better, more consistent team. I have said from the get-go that the Spartans’ defense will keep them in most games, and I think it wins them this one. If somehow Brady Hoke has all of a sudden learned how to win on the road , UM QB Devin Gardner can play well without turning the ball over multiple times and if the UM offensive line plays better than they have all season, then I think UM has a chance, but odds are none of those things happen this Saturday. MSU gets back to its winning ways vs the Wolverines with a 20-14 victory.
David Harns Michigan State Spartans senior writer, follow David on Twitter @isportsDave
I could see this game going one of two ways: Connor Cook struggles and the Spartans are in it at the end with a chance to win it with a field goal. Or Connor Cook plays like he has 3 out of the last 4 games and the Spartans bury the Wolverines by 20 points. Since it is impossible to know for sure which way it will go, I’ll split the difference and pick MSU by 11 with a final score of 31-20
Lucas Rains Michigan Football correspondent, follow Lucas on Twitter @LucasRains
The rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State has produced some pretty competitive games in recent years, and I expect much of the same on Saturday in East Lansing.
MSU’s top-ranked defense could pose some problems for Michigan’s inconsistent offense. The young interior O-line will be tested early and often by State’s aggressive blitzes. The way the line and quarterback Devin Gardner play will be a major factor in the contest.
In a game like this, turning the ball over is not acceptable. Gardner has to make good decisions under pressure to give the Wolverines a chance at winning the game. MSU will look to force Michigan to throw the ball, and if Gardner can do so, I think Michigan can come out on top. For the Michigan State offense, they will face a Michigan defense that has been stingy against the run.
If Connor Cook can throw the ball well, they can make things interesting. All things considered, I think this will be a low-scoring game with a lot of punts. I’ve got Michigan winning 24-17.
Danielle St. Marie Michigan State Football correspondent, follow Danielle on Twitter @Dani_Saintmarie
Vegas favors the Spartans by 4.5 points, but with State’s ability to create turnovers (9th in the FBS), the Spartans gain the advantage.
MSU will rely heavily on their #1 ranked run defense and #3 ranked pass defense to keep the big “Mo” on their side Saturday. Although the Wolverines have a higher-ranking pass offense than the Spartans, Michigan was only able to put up 24 points on a struggling Penn State defense who’s given up 205 points in 7 games.
If the Wolverines expect to throw the ball, Devin Gardner will have to be on point against a ball-hawking Spartan secondary and elite pass rush. Meanwhile, Spartan quarterback Connor Cook has 12 touchdowns this season with only 2 interceptions.
With this bitter, in-state rivalry, Cook will be eager to unleash his arm against a defense who has allowed 26.7 points per game. Not to mention the home field advantage. The city of East Lansing will be motivating the Spartans as they fight for redemption from last year. GO GREEN!! Michigan State wins 24-14
Ryan Squanda Michigan State Football correspondent, follow Ryan on Twitter @squandaryan
At the beginning of the season, I predicted Michigan State would lose this game. However, 2/3 of the way through the season, it appears Michigan may not be as good as anticipated and it appears they are very beatable.
Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner has shown some issues taking care of the ball the season and he’s about to face one of the best and most opportunistic defenses in the nation. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the fate of the game for MSU rests on the shoulders of Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook. If Cook comes to play Saturday the way he did against Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois, the Spartans should come out on top by a final score of 24-20.
Rob White Co-founder and Michigan Wolverines correspondent, follow Rob on Twitter @isportsRob
Before the season started, I thought this was a game Michigan could squeak out on the road. After the first two weeks of the season I was even more confident of that.
However, things have changed and I’m not so sure any more. In Devin Gardner, Michigan has, by far, the best playmaker on the field. He could win this game for the Wolverines. However, he has also been prone to turnovers and the Spartans’ defense could be to Gardner what kryptonite is to Superman.
This is the dichotomy that is Devin Gardner. He can win games when he goes into Superman mode, but he can also lose games if he goes into Superman mode – by trying to do too much; you know what I’m talking about, reversing directions in the face of a pass rush and losing 15 yards.
Add to that, Michigan will be starting their third different offensive line combination, which will include a true freshman and a redshirt freshman, against the best defense in the country, on the road no less and you have the recipe for a loss. I think it will be a close one, but, against all my hopes and dreams for the Wolverines, I’m picking Michigan State to win by a final score of 28-24.
Scott Peceny isportsweb’s Senior Editor, follow Scott on twitter @ScottPeceny
This is a tough one for me. I grew up bleeding blue- my father graduated from Michigan in 1986. But when I didn’t get in to Michigan, I ended up at Michigan State and graduated from there last May.
So naturally, I’m a bit torn.
When I look at this matchup, what’s striking is that these teams are basically polar opposites of one another. Michigan boasts a pretty high-powered offense that has returning veterans at the skill positions in Devin Gardner, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jeremy Gallon. Conversely, MSU’s offense has very few proven veterans, as Connor Cook will make his seventh career start at quarterback for the Spartans on Saturday, and Jeremy Langford has just 150 career carries to Toussaint’s 480.
Will the Spartans’ inexperience on offense hurt them in this game? Because they’re at home, I don’t think it has the same impact as if this game were played in Ann Arbor. However, the offensive edge has to go to Michigan.
Defense is where MSU has the stark edge, and is where they’ll win or lose the game. Turn the ball over and limit Gallon in the passing game, and the Spartans likely win, as I like their chances against the Michigan running game. However, if Gardner can make big plays and Toussaint can get going on the ground, Michigan can pull off the upset.
There will be a big play made by one team or the other in this game that will decide the winner. It may be a long touchdown, a pick-six or a punt return, but the team that makes that big play will likely win. Gardner will probably be involved in this play, and if he can make it for his team as opposed to against his team, the Wolverines have a fighting chance.
MSU will be looking to eliminate that big play and keep everything in front of them; should Gardner force one or two deep balls, the Spartans’ defense will make him pay.
It’s tough to predict a score when a bad offense goes against a bad defense and vice versa (good offense vs good defense), but I think due to nerves, environment and weather, this will be a low scoring game like the 12-10 field goal fest of last year. I think at home, it is MSU and not UM that makes the big play to win, as a late Gardner pick kills the Wolverines’ rally. Spartans win, but Wolverines cover 17-16.
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