Connect with us


Michigan State football enters 2023 with nation’s second-toughest schedule

Not great, Bob.



Michigan State football
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

According to PFF, Michigan State football has the second-toughest schedule in the nation for the 2023 season.

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” – Robert Schuller

This may well be the mantra for Michigan State football entering the 2023 season. According to Pro Football Focus, the Spartans enter the season with the second-toughest strength of schedule in the country.

The list is based on how 2023 opponents finished in 2022. As with all sports, there’s plenty of turnover from year to year in college football. This means that a team could appear as a tough opponent on paper now but not be one in reality when teams take the field. For the sake of the PFF metric, it’s based on teams’ total records from the previous season. The combined 2022 records of Michigan State’s 2023 opponents was 96-57.

Let’s examine Michigan State’s 2023 schedule and their opponents and some notable info about each.

vs. Central Michigan (Sept. 1)

The Chippewas finished the 2022 season with a 4-8 record finishing fifth in the MAC West. The last time the Spartans and Chips faced off was in 2018. Both teams have completely new rosters since their last matchup and will kick off their seasons with an in-state showdown.

vs. Richmond (Sept. 9)

The FCS Spiders had a strong season in 2022, finishing at 9-4. They would go on the lose to Sacramento State in the FCS playoffs. The most notable win for Richmond was a 20-10 victory over Villanova.

vs. Washington (Sept. 16)

The Huskies are coming off of a strong 11-2 season. In the second match-up of this home-and-home series, the Spartans will be looking for payback. Michigan State went on the road and lost to the Huskies last year 39-28. At the time, the Spartans were still a ranked team, and hopes for the season were high. Michael Penix Jr. again played spoiler to the Spartans. This time, Penix will be back with a former Spartan in Germie Bernard.

vs. Maryland (Sept. 23)

Maryland finished with a feisty 8-5 record in 2022. The Spartans and Terps faced off in 2022 with the Terps pulling out a 27-13 victory. Maryland also took Michigan down to the wire and lost a one-score game and finished the season with a ranked win over NC State. Taulia Tagovailoa played through multiple injuries last year. With him entering the season with a clean bill of health, no team in the Big Ten should be viewing Maryland as an easy win.

at Iowa (Sept. 30)

The Hawkeyes magically finished the 2022 season with an 8-5 record. The team lacked any semblance of a passing game but relied on strong defense and a solid running game. This year’s Iowa team will be one that a lot of eyes are on in the Big Ten. The team added former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara as well as former Wolverines tight end Erik All. These additions will likely expand the playbook for the Hawkeyes. Even if McNamara is an average quarterback, it’ll be a big boost to Iowa’s offense.

at Rutgers (Oct. 14)

Rutgers finished last year at 4-8. The Spartans defeated the Scarlet Knights last year, 27-21, in a game that felt unnecessarily close for Michigan State. In a battle of the “keep choppin'” mantra, Mel Tucker will look to again take down Greg Schianno and Co.

vs. Michigan (Oct. 21)

Michigan had a strong 2022 season with a 13-1 record that led to a Big Ten title. The Wolverines would go on to lose to TCU in the College Football Playoff. Mel Tucker enters this matchup 2-1 against Jim Harbaugh after suffering his first rivalry loss last year. Michigan has a great 1-2 punch at the running back position and JJ McCarthy returning at quarterback. Last year’s matchup got all the press for all the wrong reasons. This rivalry will always bring more emotions, and more than any other game on the Michigan State football schedule, it’s the one where matchups and rankings matter the least.

at Minnesota (Oct. 28)

Minnesota finished with a 9-4 record. This is another rematch matchup for the Spartans. Michigan State was on the receiving end of a 34-7 loss last year in East Lansing. That loss felt like the turning point in the season where fans knew they weren’t watching the 2021 team anymore. The Golden Gophers will now be without star running back Mohamed Ibrahim.

vs. Nebraska (Nov. 4)

Near the bottom of the Big Ten, Nebraska finished with a 4-8 record. Nebraska will be one of the most interesting teams to watch in the 2023 season. At this point, it’s difficult to know what to expect. The Cornhuskers hired a new head coach in Matt Rhule. They have also been making some noise in the transfer portal and recruiting. Winning with a first-year head coach is tough but this Nebraska team feels like it’ll win a couple of games that it’s not supposed to.

at Ohio State (Nov. 11)

The Buckeyes ended with a record of 11-2. The only two losses the Buckeyes suffered were to Michigan and in the College Football Playoff to Georgia. Ohio State will be entering the season with a new quarterback since CJ Stroud is now in the NFL. With Marvin Harrison Jr. at wide receiver, it almost feels like it doesn’t matter who is at quarterback. Michigan State hasn’t beaten the Buckeyes since 2015.

at Indiana (Nov. 18)

Indiana finished 2022 with a 4-8 record. One of their four wins came in a double-overtime victory over the Spartans. Point blank, Michigan State football can’t lose these types of games moving forward. A lack of a kicking game cost the Spartans a win.

vs. Penn State (Nov. 25)

Penn State finished with an 11-2 record. For the third straight year, the Spartans will conclude their regular season with a matchup with the Nittany Lions. This matchup in particular will have a new vibe as the teams matchup at Ford Field in Detroit. Last year, the Spartans lost 35-16. Penn State will be entering the season with a new quarterback. Sean Clifford had his ups and downs in Happy Valley but his grit kept Penn State in a lot of games. We’ll have to see how they navigate that change.