Will Michigan State football be able to pull off a big upset of Illinois on Saturday in Champaign? Well, um, maybe.
After another tough loss with very little offense, it’s back to the drawing board for Michigan State football.
Mel Tucker, Jay Johnson, and Scottie Hazelton have to devise a plan to slow down the runaway freight train that has been Illinois this season.
Outside of a loss to Indiana in the second week of the year, the Illini have been red-hot, winning six straight games and jumping to No. 16 in the latest playoff rankings. Bret Bielema has this team in firm control of its own destiny in the Big Ten West.
Michigan State will try to spoil those Big Ten title hopes on Saturday with a huge upset.
But it’s going to take a near-perfect gameplan seeing as Illinois has the best defense in the country, statistically.
So hey, let’s get into my three fearless predictions for the game, shall we?
1. MSU doubles the Illini’s points allowed average
Illinois has surrendered more than 14 points just once this year. You read that correctly.
Back in Week 2, Indiana dropped 23 on the Illini and they have been stingy ever since, holding teams to 8.9 points per game which is the best scoring defense in the country.
Michigan State is going to top that average and give the Illini the best offensive showing they’ve seen since Week 2. Sure, it’s going to be tough and I have very little faith in Johnson at this point, but I can see Payton Thorne taking advantage of his elite receivers and solid tight ends. Let’s call this the Daniel Barker revenge game.
2. Keon Coleman goes over 100 yards again
We learned two things from the Michigan game. One, the defense is trending back in the right direction after some schematic fixed. And two, Keon Coleman is nearly impossible to defend one-on-one.
Coleman had 155 yards and a touchdown on five catches against the Wolverines and all Thorne had to do was throw it up to him. He’s going to continue that trend against a good Illini defense, catching six passes for 120 yards and another score. Let’s hope this will be enough to win the game.
3. MSU loses a one-score game
I’ve already made the prediction that Illinois is going to win but Michigan State will cover the +17 spread and I’m doubling down. As each day passes during game weeks, I talk myself into a Michigan State win almost every Friday. Although I’m not doing that here, I do think the Spartans will make this one interesting.
The one thing making me the most optimistic is the fact that Indiana beat these Illini earlier in the year and their best win is probably at Wisconsin, a team that MSU also beat. Illinois lost to the only Big Ten East team they played so far this season and it was arguably the worst one.
Michigan State loses a tight one in Champaign.