After losing to Northwestern at home, the second loss of the 2018 season, positivity isn’t exactly bubbling over around the Michigan State Spartans. However, national analysts still have high expectations for this team.
The consensus from the major outlets is the Spartans are headed to Florida for the Outback Bowl on January first. That would be the most prestigious bowl appearance for MSU since 2015. It would be the first New Year’s bowl game for the Spartans since the 2014 season.
Analysts from SB Nation, ESPN, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports all predict Michigan State will play in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. They have MSU playing either Auburn, LSU, Kentucky or Mississippi State. The lone analyst not predicting this outcome is ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura who projected them to finish in the Gator Bowl.
The Outback Bowl is the third highest bowl opportunity for the Big Ten, outside of the playoff and the New Year’s Six games. All of the analysts expected a Big Ten team (by that I mean Ohio State) to reach the playoff. They also expect an additional team to be in a New Year’s Six game on top of the Rose Bowl representative. That puts MSU as the fifth highest Big Ten representative.
While fifth place isn’t exactly what the Spartans had in mind at the start of the year, it will still take a good deal of work to reach that level.
After back-to-back games coming up against Penn State and Michigan, Michigan State has difficult-but-winnable games against Purdue and Maryland. They follow that by hosting Ohio State and finish the season with games against the bottom of the conference in Nebraska and Rutgers.
Being realistic with what the Spartans have shown so far and the injury problems they’ve faced, a 4-2 record in those games – with Michigan being a toss-up (never concede) – should be expected. That puts MSU in seven to eight win territory, short of where they finished last season when they reached the Holiday Bowl.
There are reasons to be confident in Michigan State. Despite their struggles, they haven’t had anything resembling a healthy starting unit on either side of the ball all season long. If they are able to get healthy in time and surprise some of the teams at the top of the conference, it’s not impossible for them to reach a New Year’s Six game.
What bowl game do the Spartans belong in?
This poll is closed
A better bowl than the Outback Bowl
The Outback Bowl
A worse bowl than the Outback Bowl