Finally MSU catches a break with the bye week and with the added week off we now have a fairly balanced schedule. The season contains 1 pod of 4 games 1 pod of 5 games and 1 pod of 3 games.
Each pod has its own peaks and valleys so I will take a look at each pod without getting in too much detail.
Pod 1: One foot in front of the other
August 30th: Western Michigan (2012: 4-8) W
Septemeber 7th: South Florida (2012: 3-9) W
September 14th: Youngstown St (2012: 7-4) W
September 21st: @ Notre Dame (2012: 12-1) L
The best thing about this opening pod is that each game will be progressively tougher and we will be able to "go for broke" at Notre Dame. Best case scenario would obviously be 4-0 heading into our bye week with a chance to recover from any injuries. I think we lose a close one at Notre Dame and end up putting in the extra effort during the bye week to prepare for Iowa.
Pod 2: Bookends
October 5th: @ Iowa (2012 4-8) W
October 12th: Indiana (2012 4-8) W
October 19th Purdue (2012 6-7) W
October 26th @ Illinois (2012 2-10) W
November 2nd Michigan (2012 8-5) W
The interesting thing about this pod is that our two toughest games are at the start and end of the 5 game stretch. This is the longest consecutive streak of games we will play this year. Regardless of what happens in the Notre Dame game the first game at Iowa will be tough because we have never played well in Iowa City. If we beat Notre Dame and squeak out a win vs. Iowa we could have the makings of a special season. If we fall at Notre Dame and at Iowa we could be in for another disappointing season.
This pod also contains the Michigan game which is always our most emotionally charged game of the season. We also seem to always have a hangover after the Michigan game so it will be nice to "go for broke" knowing that there is a week of rest after the game.
Best case scenario in this pod is obviously 5-0 but I could also see us dropping a game @ Iowa or home against Michigan. At this point I think Michigan will be a tougher game even though it is at home. I think we go 5-0 in this pod but 4-1 is also very likely.
Pod 3: Bad things come in 3s
November 16th @ Nebraska (2012 10-4) L
November 23rd @ Northwestern (2012 10-3) L
November 30th Minnesota (2012 6-7) W
Whenever I decide to look at the schedule or analyze the upcoming season November 16th always just jumps off the page at me. We have never played well at Nebraska and coming off an emotionally charged game vs. Michigan and a bye week I just fear we are going to have one of our classic "not prepared" games. I hope I'm wrong and we should have a better idea of how the team looks by the end up October but I just don't like anything about this game.
The Northwestern game is a toss-up in my mind. They play OSU, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan before playing us. Any other team would probably be worn out or dejected coming into a game vs. MSU but I don't see that happening. I think Northwestern will take a step back this year but they still will be dangerous in November and I could see them tripping up the Spartans at home.
Minnesota will be an interesting game depending on our record. If we end up with 2 losses and only playing for a better Florida bowl berth then I can see us rolling past the Gophers. If we are playing for a berth in the B1G Championship game then this game could come with all sorts of pressure.
I keep coming back to a 9-3 record no matter how I look at our schedule. Obviously I'd love to go 12-0 but if we are going to lose 3 games I'd like to see it happen only once per pod. I could see us beating NW and dropping either Iowa or Michigan.
Winning will obviously make the "bye" weeks more fun and it will be interesting to see how the pod predictions both past and present will look. If we go 4-0 after the first pod then the Iowa game becomes HUGE. If we somehow end up going 9-0 then the week heading into the 3rd pod will probably be unbearable.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the POD system