clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Michigan State Football: Historical record against each 2017 Opponent

Rutgers v Michigan State Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

We’re still a whole summer (plus) away from college football, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the upcoming slate of games for the Michigan State Spartans and dissect the schedule.

I wanted to take a more interesting approach than just comparing the rosters of the 2017 Spartans with the rosters of their opponents this year, and look at how MSU has fared historically against each team on the docket this season.

Of course, all-time performances have little to do with what will happen in 2017, but perhaps drawing trends from the information could give us a better indication of what to expect.

Using Winsipedia and Sports Reference as sources, let’s jump right into it:

Game 1: vs. Bowling Green

All-time record: 2-0

Win percentage: 1000

Last Spartans win: 2007

Trend: In limited action, Bowling Green has fallen victim to Michigan State’s dominance over the MAC (39-6 overall)

Quick analysis: This season marks only the third matchup ever for these two schools, but Michigan State is 2-0 in the previous matchups. The games were not blowouts, however, winning by 11 in 2007 and by only three in 1981. The Spartans have won nearly 87 percent of games versus the Mid-American Conference. I would expect that to continue Week 1.

Game 2: vs. Western Michigan

All-time record: 12-2

Win percentage: .857

Last Spartans win: 2015

Trend: The Spartans have won 10 matchups in a row versus Western Michigan

Quick analysis: The Broncos have not beaten the Spartans since 1919; further solidifying Michigan State’s dominance over MAC opponents. Talking about last year, there is little doubt that a stellar WMU team could have beaten the lowly Spartans. This year is an interesting matchup as Western has lost its head coach, quarterback, star receiver and other starters, while MSU is in rebuild mode. I predict an MSU win, though.

Game 3: vs. Notre Dame

All-time record: 29-48-1

Win percentage: .378

Last Spartans win: 2016

Trend: Michigan State has lost three of the last four against Notre Dame

Quick analysis: In a down season for both schools, Michigan State won in South Bend last year. However, Notre Dame had won the three matchups prior to the 2016 tilt, and four of the last six matchups overall. MSU has not fared well historically against the Irish, but the teams have split the last 10 meetings with five wins each. Both teams have big question marks this season.

Game 4: vs. Iowa

All-time record: 21-23-2

Win percentage: .478

Last Spartans win: 2015

Trend: Michigan State has won three of the last four, and two in a row, versus Iowa

Quick analysis: This all-time series is very close to even. Two of the last three games have been decided by three points. The last time the Spartans battled (and beat) the Hawkeyes, there was a Big Ten championship on the line. The Hawkeyes are always a competitive team, and could be a tough matchup in 2017. This tilt marks the fourth straight home game to open the season for MSU.

Game 5: at Michigan

All-time record: 39-65-5

Win percentage: .344

Last Spartans win: 2015

Trend: The Spartans have won seven of the last nine games against the Wolverines.

Quick analysis: The first road game of 2017 will be the one everybody has marked on their calendars. Winning in Ann Arbor is never an easy feat, but the Spartan Dawgs have done so on three of the last four occasions. Also, Mark Dantonio is 7-3 against Michigan. Michigan lost seemingly all of its talent from 2016, so I feel this game will be a lot closer than many imagine.

Game 6: at Minnesota

All-time record: 29-17

Win percentage: .630

Last Spartans win: 2013

Trend: The Spartans have won the last four meetings versus the Gophers.

Quick analysis: While the Spartans have won four in a row, the Gophers won the three games prior to that stretch. This year will be the first time since 2013 that the two squads meet, with both teams not quite sure what to expect from their teams. The Spartans’ 63 percent winning rate against Minnesota is their fourth highest against Big Ten foes. This should be a winnable game for MSU.

Game 7: vs. Indiana

All-time record: 45-16-2

Win percentage: .730

Last Spartans win: 2015

Trend: Michigan state has only lost to Indiana three times since the turn of the 21st century

Quick analysis: Indiana comes into East Lansing fresh off of a win in 2016, and will be looking to spoil Michigan State’s homecoming weekend. But it is the Spartans that have dominated this series, winning at a 73 percent clip (second highest against Big Ten opponents). MSU had won seven in a row before 2016, and 11 of the last 13 matchups overall. Spartans will be looking for revenge this season.

Game 8: vs. Northwestern

All-time record: 37-18

Win percentage: .673

Last Spartans win: 2013

Trend: The two teams have split the last four games, winning two games a piece

Quick analysis: The Spartans have dominated this series overall, but Northwestern embarrassed them in East Lansing last year with a good ground attack. The Spartans have won five of the past seven games, but the Wildcats have been tough lately, and won two of the past three contests. With Justin Jackson and Clayton Thorson returning for Northwestern, this may be a tough game on the road this season.

Game 9: vs. Penn State

All-time record: 15-15-1

Win percentage: .500

Last Spartans win: 2015

Trend: This series is as even as it gets

Quick analysis: Each team has won 15 times, with each team embarrassing the other in the last two games. The Spartans have won three of the past four meetings, while the Nittany Lions have won six of the past 10, including last year. I see little to no scenario where the Land Grant Trophy returns to East Lansing in 2017 (other than it making the trip for the game).

Game 10: vs. Ohio State

All-time record: 15-30

Win percentage: .333

Last Spartans win: 2015

Trend: We have seen close, competitive games in this series lately

Quick analysis: While the Spartans have only won one-third of their games against the Buckeyes, MSU has played well of late. The depleted 2016 Spartans lost by a single point (due to a failed two-point conversion attempt). Four of the past six games have been decided by three points or less, and each team won three games in that stretch. The Spartans have also won two in a row in Columbus, but this year will be a tough.

Game 11: vs. Maryland

All-time record: 6-2

Win percentage: .750

Last Spartans win: 2015

Trend: The Spartans have been a tough draw for the Terps.

Quick analysis: Although it’s a smaller sample size, Michigan State’s 75 percent winning clip against Maryland is the school’s highest against any Big Ten rival. Interestingly, before Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014 and the two teams met that year, the schools had not faced off since 1950. That was the last time Maryland had beaten Sparty before last year. The Spartans will be looking for redemption at home this season.

Game 12: at Rutgers

All-time record: 5-3

Win percentage: .625

Last Spartans win: 2015

Trend: The Spartans’ average margin of victory is 27.6, while Rutgers’ is just 5.3

Quick analysis: Rutgers’ largest victory over the Spartans is just seven points, winning the other two games by four and five. Michigan State has won the last three contests, winning two of those by at least 42 points. The series is still young, but is relatively close. Playing Rutgers, albeit on the road, should allow the Spartans to end the regular season on a high note.

So, historically speaking, the Spartans have a winning record against seven of their 12 foes, a .500 record against one and a losing record against four schools. Michigan State has a combined all-time winning percentage (throwing out ties) of 51.6 percent against 2017 opponents, if my math is correct.

Vote in the poll and let us know in the comments section how many wins you think the Spartans will get in 2017.


How many games will the Michigan State football team win this season?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    (19 votes)
  • 27%
    (155 votes)
  • 60%
    (340 votes)
  • 8%
    10 or more
    (48 votes)
562 votes total Vote Now