The quality of MSU's home games in past seasons has varied significantly; from last year (what would've been the second best home game after Michigan? Minnesota or Indiana?) to two years ago (Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State - all losses. This concludes our discussion of the 2012 season). The 2014 MSU home games look to be either really, really, awesome, or generic filler. Here's how we rank the games in attractiveness, divided into tiers.
SORRY SON, BUT YOU'LL HAVE TO GET MARRIED WITHOUT US
1. Ohio State - November 8th, 8 PM Eastern, TV: ABC. National television audience? Check. The one game forecasted to be key to winning the Big Ten East Division? Check. Hordes of Buckeyes making their way to East Lansing like Hannibal crossing the Alps? Check once again. This will definitely be one of the most raucous atmospheres in Spartan Stadium in the past decade, and hopefully the scarlet and gray inside is kept to one corner.
2. Michigan - October 25th, Time and TV to be announced. Usually this would be the biggest game in Spartan Stadium. However, since Dave Brandon would rather overlook one bit of corporate synergy than let MSU and UM play a game at night, and given the magnitude of the game following it two weeks later, one of the Big Ten's nastiest rivalries steps down to the number two games for one year only.
BOOK YOUR BABYSITTER WEEKS IN ADVANCE
3. Nebraska - October 4, 8 PM Eastern, TV: ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2. Thanks to the Cornhuskers offensive strategy of scoring half the time and turning the ball over the other half, Michigan State left Lincoln last year with its first ever victory against the Cornhuskers. Now cross-divisional foes, the Spartans start the conference season with their second of three night games in home in 2014, and will look to push Bo Pelini to levels of anger that can only be described as "Vesuvian".
METHADONE EXISTS FOR A REASON
4. Jacksonville State - August 29, 7:30 PM Eastern, TV: BTN. No lie, if this game is competitive, it could be the beginning of a loooonnngggg season. However, it could be like last year, where MSU struggled to put Youngstown State away, struggled for a few weeks, then blossomed. The Gamecocks are ranked as high as 4th in the CFB Playoff Subdivision to start the season, so here's to not getting Appalachian Stated. That said though, you'll most likely be anxious to head to this game for the sweet, sweet taste of Michigan State tailgating you've gone months without.
WATCH IF ONLY DUE TO MORBID CURIOSITY
5. Rutgers - November 22, Time and TV to be announced. I attended the MSU-Northwestern game in Evanston last season. We tailgated on a lot next to Lake Michigan, and, like with most late November Big Ten games, the possibility of frostbite was always imminent. I expect this game to be a noon game, which means tailgating starts at 7 AM, which means layer upon layer of clothing. Still, if all goes well MSU could clinch the Big Ten on this date, so it might be worth surviving the cold to see that and the tens upon tens of Rutgers fans.
HOMECOMING IS AGAINST WHO NOW?
6. Wyoming - September 27, 12:00 PM Eastern, TV: ABC, ESPN, or BTN. While the Cowboys nearly beat Nebraska in Lincoln last season, they were 5-7 as a whole and 3-5 in the Mountain West Conference. The attraction to this game is threefold - it's homecoming, the possibility of having a beautiful Fall afternoon to watch Spartan football is high, and you're probably going to see a win.
THE ANNUAL MAC-RIFICE
7. Eastern Michigan - September 20, Time and TV to be announced. The same reasons to attend the Wyoming game apply here as well. The probability of a win is near certain, given the Eagles needed overtime to get their only win against a Bowl Subdivision team last season (Western Michigan). Hope for a sunny day.
Really, all MSU games are worth going to. However, I don't know why anyone with season tickets without a valid reason would miss the OSU, UM, and Nebraska games. Rutgers might be OK, but the weather could be rough. Wyoming and Eastern Michigan will (hopefully) be uneventful, and Jacksonville State is only rated as high as it is due to it being the first hit of Michigan State football since the Spring Game. What are your thoughts?