Michigan State football

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Michigan State football: 3 fearless predictions for battle with No. 4 Michigan

Saturday’s Michigan vs. Michigan State football game isn’t expected to be close, but will the Spartans shock everyone?

Alright, so we may not be preparing for a top-10 battle between Michigan and Michigan State football like we were a year ago around this time, but we’re all hanging on to hope by a thread.

Michigan is ranked No. 4 in the country while the Spartans began the season in the top 15 and flirted with the top 10 before losing four straight games. Confidence has been waning, but the Spartans got a little back with a win over Wisconsin in overtime a couple of weeks ago.

The players and coaches believe Michigan State football can win, so the fans should, too, right?

Sadly, that’s not how it works, and witnessing that four-game losing streak took the life out of each and every one of us. But the Wisconsin win brought us back ever so slightly.

So, for the sake of this rivalry, I’m going to give some cautiously optimistic fearless predictions.

Maybe I’ve been drinking a little too much green Kool-Aid.

1. Michigan State leads at the half, covers +23 spread

Is this really all that optimistic? Yeah, not really. But hey, it’s something.

Michigan State is going to play a really good first half filled with a 4-3 defensive scheme and some creative play-calling and execution. But the Wolverines will pull away in the final 30 minutes. Michigan State will hold a field goal lead at the half but Michigan wins by at least 10-14 points. The Spartans do cover that +23 spread, however.

2. Tight ends are active

We haven’t seen this happen all that often this season, but we’re going to see the tight ends play a big role in the passing game. They may have an advantage over Michigan’s linebackers, athletically, so I think Payton Thorne and Jay Johnson will take advantage. We’ll see Maliq Carr and Daniel Barker combine for six catches for over 70 yards and maybe even a touchdown.

3. Payton Thorne has back-to-back good games

It’s been a rough year for Thorne but I don’t think the struggles are all on him. If he was playing at anything less than 100 percent earlier in the year, that’s on the staff to roll with Noah Kim until he’s healthy. And he was trying to play too much hero ball with the run game struggling. Thorne was pressing hard.

But he got back to normal against Wisconsin before the bye and his confidence is on the uptick. I think he’ll have his second good game in a row for the first time this season as he passes for over 225 yards and a couple of touchdowns with a 65 percent completion rate. Will it be enough? I just don’t think so.

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