Connect with us


Michigan State football: 3 storylines and a prediction vs. Richmond

Here’s what to be watch for.



Michigan State football

Michigan State football has another tune-up opportunity against Richmond in Week 2. Here’s our official preview and a prediction.

After beating Central Michigan to open the season, Michigan State football continues its September home schedule with a matchup against FCS-level Richmond.

Here are some things to watch and a prediction of the outcome on Saturday.

1. Can Michigan State start faster?

MSU was able to get away with a poor start in Week 1 because of its opponent. But a start like that against Ohio State or Washington, and it’ll be an early bedtime for the Spartans. Perhaps it was the Week 1 jitters that eventually wore off. But if I’m on Michigan State’s coaching staff, starting clean and starting fast has to be the focus this week.

Richmond is already at a talent disadvantage coming from the FCS level. Their performance in their season opener did not inspire a lot of confidence in their ability to win this game. The Spiders lost to Morgan State while committing four turnovers and scoring just 10 points. This is the type of game that Michigan State needs to get their starters in and out of quickly.

With Washington on deck, the Spartans will want to be as well-rested and healthy as possible. The less they’re able to put on tape for the Huskies, the better. The first step in making this an easy game for your best players is to start quickly. Get a big lead. Allow the clock to run. Put this one in the win column and move on. Not much else matters against an opponent like this.

2. The passing game

The first half of Noah Kim’s debut as Michigan State’s starting quarterback was rough. He rebounded nicely in the second. Michigan State obviously needs him to be the guy they saw make big throws downfield later in the game.

Is he able to settle in and find a rhythm from the start? Or are those errant throws a bigger part of his game than we realize?

This is a passing game that needs as many game-speed reps as it can get. I’m curious to see how Jay Johnson approaches a game in which Michigan State football is heavily favored. Will he prioritize the run to keep the clock moving and the game plan vanilla? Or will he want to air it out to give his young quarterback some confidence?

I’m also curious to see if Kim develops any strong chemistry with this group of receivers. Against Central Michigan, he distributed the ball pretty evenly. Tre Mosley and Montorie Foster Jr. saw a lot of snaps but weren’t as impressive as youngsters Tyrell Henry and Jaron Glover. Is anyone in that receiver room able to emerge as the definitive top option? There should be plenty of reps to go around on Saturday.

Speaking of backups, if things go as expected for MSU, we should see a couple of series for Katin Houser. While it appears as if Kim has the job for now, the Spartans can’t stop evaluating their options for this season and beyond.

3. Michigan State’s attention to detail

Look, there are certain teams in certain years from the FCS level that can offer as much of a test as FBS schools. After one week of play, it feels safe to say that the 2023 Richmond Spiders are not one of those teams. Morgan State defeated Richmond last week to start 1-0 for the first time in 11 years. The Bears won the game with 99 yards passing, 2.5 yards per carry, and three turnovers of their own. Richmond ran the ball 37 times for a whopping 95 yards. This box score makes the Big Ten West feel like the NFL.

This is all a long way of saying that Michigan State is going to have to measure itself against a different standard than the scoreboard. The Spartans should win easily. They should be able to play most of their roster. But that can’t come at the expense of fundamentals. The challenge for MSU’s coaching staff will be to keep the team focused on details that they will need to perfect next week to win against Washington.

Penalties, in particular, are an area that was a problem against Central Michigan. But in all aspects of the game, MSU needs to ignore the scoreboard and focus on execution on a play-by-play basis. This is a young team that needs game reps – regardless of the setting.


Because Richmond comes from the FCS level, the gambling lines won’t be released until Saturday morning. I’d expect MSU to open around a 30-point favorite. I’d lay whatever the number is as soon as you see it. Richmond showed absolutely nothing in its first game of the year. The Spiders’ passing game was not explosive. Their running game was non-existent. They were prone to turnovers.

For MSU, I don’t think it can gain anything by playing conservatively to prevent Washington from getting the full scouting report. Their best way to prepare is to let their own players play. Because of that, I think Michigan State will leave their offensive starters in for three quarters.

Given what we saw from MSU’s defense last week and this Richmond offense, I’d set the team total for Richmond at about 7.5. Michigan State should roll and move to 2-0.

Final: Michigan State 45, Richmond 7