Michigan State football may not have the highest expectations in 2023, but will the Spartans surprise some people?
The 2023 Michigan State football season is almost here so why not celebrate with some bold predictions?
Expectations remain modest for Michigan State football in 2023. That leaves ample opportunity for this team to surprise. If they do, what might that look like?
If the Spartans are feisty this fall, I have a feeling at least one of these bold predictions will come to fruition.
1. Simeon Barrow will earn first-team All-Big Ten
As of now, Simeon Barrow projects to be one of Michigan State’s best players in 2023. He’s been a solid contributor on this defense for two seasons now. As a fourth-year junior, Barrow will be hoping for a big year to set up a chance to play in the NFL. He’ll be playing alongside the deepest and most talented defensive line during his time at Michigan State.
Athlon Sports recognized Barrow as a third-team preseason honoree this season. So, while it’s not too far of a stretch for Barrow to climb up to the first team, it will still be difficult.
The biggest challenge for Barrow is his position.
Good defensive tackle play isn’t always quantifiable with stats. He may lose out on recognition because of that. However, the numbers so far are really solid. He’s amassed 13 tackles for loss in his two seasons to go along with seven sacks. He certainly has the attention of coaches and media members within the conference as he was named to the All-Big Ten honorable mention team in 2022. With the additions from the transfer portal and continued development along the defensive line, Barrow should be free to see more one-on-one opportunities. If that’s the case, we should see him in the backfield quite a bit this fall.
Ohio State and Michigan have produced NFL talent at the position for years now. But the Big Ten features other excellent defensive fronts (Illinois, Iowa, Penn State) that will make this honor particularly prestigious. Keep in mind that Michigan State’s defense comes in with very low expectations this year. Improvement into a steady unit will turn a lot of heads. If that happens, it’s going to start with Simeon Barrow up front.
2. Michigan State will have a 1,000-yard rusher
Kenneth Walker III easily eclipsed this mark in 2021. Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to 2014 when Jeremy Langford did it. Given that fact, this may seem like an impossible task for this year’s team. But it’s important to note that Elijah Collins rushed for 988 yards in 2019. L.J. Scott tallied 994 yards in 2016. Neither of those teams were as good as the 2021 or 2014 teams. So, this is certainly possible.
The running back room has talent, but it’s not clear at this point how the carries will shake out. Jalen Berger returns after a promising season and figures to be a reliable option between the tackles. UConn transfer Nathan Carter has generated some buzz in camp so far and figures to be at worst a 1B-type option for the Spartan offense.
For this prediction, I’m not sure it matters. I think both players are capable of having a big season.
To me, this says more about Michigan State’s offensive line. The Spartans return four starters from last year. The rest of the roster is filled with redshirt freshmen and sophomores that have spent time in the program to get better. Chris Kapilovic has a very strong reputation as an offensive line coach. But even the best coaches still need time to develop players. I think this is the year where we see progress.
The returning starters and overall depth within the program feel deeper than ever under Mel Tucker. That, combined with a young quarterback and receivers, and I get the sense that the Spartans are going to lean on the running game as much as possible.
The “go-to guy” within the backfield will play out on the field over the first few weeks. Whoever that ends up being should have an outside shot to get to 1,000 yards. As shown above, that doesn’t necessarily translate into a good or bad season for the team. But with where the strengths are on this offense, it feels like an attainable goal for either or both running backs.
3. Michigan State will beat a “Big Four” opponent
Ohio State. Michigan. Penn State. Washington. Those are the “big four” on the schedule for Michigan State football in 2023. All four teams begin the season ranked in the top 10. All four teams won at least 11 games last season. Somehow, some way, I think Michigan State gets one win against those four teams.
The Spartans host Washington and Michigan in East Lansing. They’ll (likely) have a nice crowd advantage in Ford Field for the Black Friday game against Penn State. Ohio State has dominated Michigan State under Mel Tucker. It’s hard to see MSU walking out of Columbus with a win. But if you believe the Buckeyes have started to slip, and they are in fact the third-best team in the conference, then who knows?
Against Washington, MSU should benefit from a big crowd and the element of surprise. The Huskies have a similar team to what they did last year. MSU does not. Early in the year, that could play to their advantage.
The Michigan game is the biggest game on the schedule for the Spartans. They always elevate their play in that rivalry – especially at home. Michigan State will be plenty motivated after what happened after the game last season.
The movement of the Penn State game to Ford Field has received (mostly) negative feedback. To me, it’s hard to see a scenario where the pressure isn’t on Penn State to win that game. There is a world where they need to win that game to win the Big Ten East division. There is also a world where they would be hoping to avoid another loss in a frustrating season that began with sky-high expectations. Either way, the Ford Field wrinkle should create a bit of an awakening for MSU and their fans. Combine that with the fact that it is the last game of the season, and so much is going to change between now and Thanksgiving.
History tells us though that one of those four teams will stumble. According to Brett McMurphy, in 20 of the past 21 seasons, at least one team ranked in the preseason top 10 has finished the season unranked. Last year, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Oklahoma all fell wildly short of expectations. MSU has to hope that one of those teams is on their schedule in 2023.
Weekly college football viewing guide: What to watch in Week 4
What should you be watching this weekend?
While you can watch Michigan State vs. Maryland, here’s what else is on the intriguing college football slate in Week 4.
If you’ve got plans this weekend, start working on your fake cough and sick voice. This is a weekend of college football that dreams are made of. We have six Top 25 matchups on tap in addition to a number of other interesting games. This is a weekend that requires more than one TV. If that’s not an option, head to the bar. Savor this weekend. This is what we live for.
Here’s how to plan your weekend.
Friday, Sept. 22
- Wisconsin at Purdue – 7 p.m. ET on FS1
A rare Big Ten conference game gets the weekend started in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers haven’t been that impressive this season, but neither has Wisconsin. We keep waiting for Wisconsin’s offense to find a rhythm, but it might be time to consider this being who they are. Wisconsin has beaten Purdue sixteen times in a row. Can they end that drought on Friday?
Saturday, Sept. 23
- Florida State at Clemson – 12 p.m. ET on ABC
- Rutgers at Michigan – 12 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network
- Oklahoma at Cincinnati – 12 p.m. ET on FOX
- Auburn at Texas A&M – 12 p.m. ET on ESPN
The day gets started with a solid slate of games at noon that is headlined by the potential college football game of the year in the ACC. Florida State travels to Clemson as a short road favorite. In their biggest games of the year to date, these teams could not have looked further apart. Florida State looked awesome in their dismantling of LSU while Clemson fumbled their way to an embarrassing 28-7 loss at Duke. It feels far too easy to say that Florida State rolls here. Clemson – despite their deficiencies – is still a proud program with enough talent to win this game.
Michigan faces its toughest test of the season so far at home against an upstart Rutgers team. I’m skeptical that Rutgers can score enough (at all?) to keep this interesting. At the very least, this should give us an idea if Michigan’s struggles in the running game are a legitimate concern or if they’ve been holding things back.
Cincinnati makes its Big 12 debut at home against Oklahoma. The Sooners have looked great so far this year, but this is a tricky spot on the road against the Bearcats who are coming off an embarrassing home loss to Miami (OH).
Keep an eye on this game in College Station. Last year, Auburn celebrated their win against the Aggies like they had won the SEC. Now, the Aggies get them at home with an offense that looks much improved from a year ago.
- Maryland at Michigan State – 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC
- Colorado at Oregon – 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
- UCLA at Utah – 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX
- Ole Miss at Alabama – 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
- BYU at Kansas – 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
The afternoon gets going with Maryland visiting East Lansing in the Big Ten opener for both teams. MSU looked like a dead team walking against Washington. For Maryland, this year presents a real opportunity in the Big Ten East. So far, Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State haven’t been as advertised. Don’t rule out the Terps as a spoiler in this conference. We’ll learn what is real and not real about them against Michigan State.
The Deion Sanders show hits the road in Eugene against Oregon. It feels like the world is expecting an Oregon route, but the Buffaloes have done nothing but prove the doubters wrong this season. The injury to Travis Hunter sucks for college football. But with Shedeur Sanders, Colorado always has a chance.
The movement in the point spread would indicate that Cam Rising will be back for Utah. The Utes desperately need him. For UCLA, it looks like they are handing the reins to five-star freshman Dante Moore. That is best for them in the long term. This weekend could present some growing pains. Rice-Eccles Stadium is one of the best home-field advantages in the sport.
Is the Alabama dynasty finished? Is Nick Saban’s protégé Lane Kiffin really going to be the one to put the final nail in the coffin? This is a fascinating matchup in the SEC that should answer those questions. It’s foolish to doubt Nick Saban and Alabama, but something just feels off this year.
Don’t forget about Kansas. The Jayhawks are 3-0 and host BYU in their first game in the Big 12. Kansas remains a long shot to win the league. But the Jayhawks have a dynamic quarterback and a high-powered offense. It’s college football. Crazy things can happen.
- Arkansas at LSU – 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Oregon State at Washington State – 7 p.m. ET on FOX
- Texas at Baylor – 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
- Ohio State at Notre Dame – 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC
- Iowa at Penn State – 7:30 p.m. ET on CBS
If you’re going out on Saturday night, make sure there are TVs wherever you go. Things get started with LSU hosting Arkansas. It feels like people have sort of written off LSU as a national championship contender after their loss. They are still very much alive. Arkansas has a history of playing the Tigers tough in Baton Rouge.
Out west, we have what could be the most underrated game of the day. Oregon State has looked phenomenal early this season. Washington State came onto the radar after beating Wisconsin. This is a tough test for the Beavers in a stadium that while small, still presents a great home-field advantage.
Texas was the talk of college football after upsetting Alabama in week two. But after seeing Alabama last week, do we have to re-evaluate the Longhorns? This game is being overshadowed by the rest of the great games on Saturday. Baylor has really struggled offensively this year. Everyone will have Texas winning easily. Circle this one.
The best game of the weekend is in South Bend. Ohio State and Notre Dame face off for the second year in a row. Regardless of the outcome, seeing Ohio State’s helmets under the lights in Notre Dame Stadium in a top-10 matchup is just beautiful. We’ll find out if Ohio State’s struggles are overblown or legitimately concerning. Notre Dame has the defense and running game to win.
If you’re somebody who loves defense, turn on CBS. Penn State and Iowa get together in one of my personal favorite Big Ten matchups. This game is even more fun because this will be the “white out” game for Penn State. While the Nittany Lion offense has been sluggish, their defense is elite. You know you’re going to get good defense and special teams from Iowa. Cade McNamara doesn’t look healthy to me, and that’s a problem against this defense. Iowa is on shutout alert.
- USC at Arizona State – 10:30 p.m. ET on FOX
- Cal at Washington – 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
It’s a shame that this glorious day of college football doesn’t give us one appealing matchup in the late-night spot. USC and Washington are heavy favorites against these conference bottom-feeders. Arizona State may be without as many as ten starters with their third-string quarterback going against Caleb Williams. This one could be a bloodbath.
While Washington looked invincible against Michigan State, nobody has been better in this spot than Justin Wilcox. The Bears have shown the ability to make these games ugly with their defense. Can they do enough to hang around and make this worth staying up for? Probably not. But what else are you going to do? Go to bed? Enjoy the day. This one is special.
Michigan State football: 3 fearless predictions vs. Maryland
Let’s hope the Washington loss was an outlier.
Michigan State football will host unbeaten Maryland on Saturday afternoon looking to bounce back from the Washington debacle.
What a disaster this season has been thus far for Michigan State football. While the obvious negative storyline involves Mel Tucker, there’s an underlying issue that hasn’t been talked about enough: injuries. It feels like that’s the theme of the program every single year.
Michigan State has been bitten by the injury bug yet again — and twice as hard.
The ailing Spartans, who could be without over a dozen players on Saturday, will host an undefeated Maryland team trying to improve to 4-0 behind the arm of Taulia Tagovailoa. The Spartans need to get after him early and often — something they couldn’t do against Michael Penix Jr.
This game is important for Michigan State if it wants to have a chance at a bowl berth this season.
To celebrate homecoming weekend, here are three of my most fearless predictions for the crucial game.
1. Nathan Carter rushes for 100 yards again
Through two Michigan State football games, Nathan Carter looked like a superstar. He had back-to-back 100-yard games to open his Spartan career and he looked like the clear top player on offense. But the offensive line has done him no favors.
Need proof? Just look at the Washington game. He had no running lanes and was hit in the backfield a ton which was disappointing to see. The offensive line was supposed to be a strength this year.
I think we’ll see the offense design more runs to mask these issues in the trenches. Carter will have more runs designed to utilize his speed and elusiveness around the edge and I think he’s going to take full advantage with another 100-yard performance. This will mark three 100-yard games in his first four outings as a Spartan.
Carter’s final line with be 20 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown.
2. Jordan Hall records 10 tackles
If you’ve read up on the (few) bright spots from Michigan State’s loss to Washington, you’d know that Jordan Hall was one of them. The freshman linebacker looks like a budding star through three games. In fact, he’s rated as the Big Ten’s 10th-best linebacker this year and the nation’s No. 8 linebacker in terms of pass coverage. Not too shabby for a true freshman.
Hall is going to have a big game on Saturday against Maryland.
While he has just nine total tackles this season, he’s only played a small percentage of defensive snaps. We’re going to see a healthy dose of Hall on Saturday afternoon as he surpasses his season total for tackles in one game. He’ll even finish with two tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks.
This could be the start of a special career in East Lansing for Hall.
3. Katin Houser engineers a comeback
Last week was a rough one for Noah Kim. The veteran quarterback struggled mightily against a defense that had been mediocre through the first two weeks of the season against inferior opponents and a lot had to do with the offensive line struggling. I think that continues this week as he will get off to a quick start, but stall out through the end of the first quarter and the second quarter.
After halftime, he’ll take the field as the starter once again, but he’ll turn the ball over on the first drive and then go three-and-out on the second possession. Harlon Barnett will make the call to put Katin Houser in the game.
Down 20-10 in the second quarter, Houser will breathe some new life into the offense, but he, too, will be running for his life thanks to offensive line struggles. Houser will throw a touchdown pass and lead two more scoring drives to put Michigan State up 23-20. I have a feeling Maryland wins this one, but the Houser magic will have us believing again.
Michigan State holds on to win 23-20 and Houser’s solid player opens up the QB1 job again.
Spartan Shadows staff Week 4 college football picks against the spread
Who ya got?
It’s Week 4 in college football and that means it’s time for the weekly Spartan Shadows staff pick ’em. Who are we picking?
Hey, Spartan Shadows fans, Week 3 of college football has come and gone. We had some entertaining games, some surprising upsets, and then some games that just surprisingly upset us (*cough* MSU *cough*). Now that most everyone’s non-conference schedule has wrapped up, it’s time to get into conference play.
This should give us some more entertaining games each week to dive into.
But before we do that, let’s check out the results of the Week 3 college football games.
Week 3 results
Here’s how the picks went last week:
- No. 14 LSU at Mississippi State — Line: LSU -9.5; Result: LSU cover
- No. 15 Kansas State at Missouri — Line: Kansas State -5; Result: Missouri cover
- Minnesota at No. 20 North Carolina — Line: UNC -7.5; Result: North Carolina cover
- Virginia Tech at Rutgers — Line: Rutgers -6.5; Result: Rutgers cover
- South Carolina at No. 1 Georgia — Line: Georgia -27.5; Result: South Carolina cover
- No. 11 Tennessee at Florida — Line: Tennessee -6.5; Result: Florida cover
- Bowling Green at No. 2 Michigan — Line: Michigan -40.5; Result: Bowling Green cover
- Syracuse at Purdue — Line: Syracuse -2.5; Result: Syracuse cover
- Pittsburgh at West Virginia — Line: Pitt -1; Result: West Virginia cover
- No. 8 Washington at Michigan State — Line: Washington -16.5; Result: Washington cover
For the staff picks recap: I first will have no official comment on our MSU game picks.
As far as the rest of the weekend goes, our fearless leader Connor Muldowney had a strong showing, going 7-3 overall. HopMan and MSUrecruits also went strong at 6-4. Myself and Daily hitting the .500 mark is a good sign as well. In the sports betting world, .500 is good. On the other end of the pick train, we had Max going a rough 2-8 after starting the season out hot and then Anthony and Joey going 3-7. Emmett also went 4-6 to close out our picks.
Anthony and I have a little side competition going between us and it looks like the pressure of the Cane’s Box Bet may be getting to him a bit. Look for him to have a strong week this week to make up for it.
Updated standings after Week 3
- HopMan: 18-12
- (Tie) Connor and Emmett: 17-13
- (Tie) MSUrecruits and Max: 16-14
- Chris: 15-15
- Daily: 14-16
- (Tie) Joey and Anthony: 13-17
Week 4 college football games
Disclaimer: All lines are as of 11:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 20 from the ESPN app and Caesars Sportsbook.
- Wisconsin at Purdue — Friday at 7 p.m. ET on FS1 (Line: Wisconsin -6)
- Rutgers at No. 2 Michigan — Saturday at 12 p.m. ET on BTN (Line: Michigan -24)
- No. 4 Florida State at Clemson — Saturday at 12 p.m. ET on ABC (Line: FSU -2.5)
Hop: Florida State
Emmett: Florida State
MSUrecruits: Florida State
Max: Florida State
Chris: Florida State
Daily: Florida State
Anthony: Florida State
- No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon — Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC (Line: Oregon -21)
- No. 22 UCLA at No. 11 Utah — Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX (Line: Utah -4.5)
- No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 13 Alabama — Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS (Line: Alabama -7)
Hop: Ole Miss
MSUrecruits: Ole Miss
Max: Ole Miss
Chris: Ole Miss
Joey: Ole Miss
Anthony: Ole Miss
- No. 13 Oregon State at No. 21 Washington State — Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on FOX (Line: Oregon State -3)
Hop: Oregon State
Connor: Washington State
Emmett: Washington State
MSUrecruits: Oregon State
Max: Oregon State
Chris: Washington State
Daily: Washington State
Joey: Washington State
Anthony: Oregon State
- No. 6 Ohio State at No. 9 Notre Dame — Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC (Line: OSU -3)
Hop: Ohio State
Connor: Notre Dame
Emmett: Ohio State
MSUrecruits: Notre Dame
Max: Notre Dame
Chris: Ohio State
Daily: Notre Dame
Joey: Ohio State
Anthony: Notre Dame
- No. 24 Iowa at No. 7 Penn State — Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on CBS (Line: PSU -15)
Connor: Penn State
Max: Penn State
Chris: Penn State
Daily: Penn State
Anthony: Penn State
- Maryland at Michigan State — Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC (Line: Maryland -7.5)
Connor: Michigan State
Chris: Michigan State
Joey: Michigan State
Anthony: Michigan State
There you have it folks. The picks are in. Looks like the staff is heavily favoring Wisconsin and Florida State so you should probably place bets for Purdue and Clemson accordingly. All joking aside, this is an excellent slate of college football games this week so enjoy it, folks.
Also, please try to come out Saturday to Spartan Stadium if you’re in the area. The players still need all the support they can get. Go Green.
Weekly college football viewing guide: What to watch in Week 4
Michigan State football: 3 fearless predictions vs. Maryland
Spartan Shadows staff Week 4 college football picks against the spread
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