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The 3-2-1 Preview: 3 things we want to see, 2 key stats, 1 gambling pick vs. Northwestern

Welcome back to homecoming week!

Central Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Happy homecoming week, everyone!

As we relive our glory days of bombing exams, dorm room shenanigans and blurry nights at Harpers, we also remember there’s a football game.

The Northwestern Wildcats are having their underwhelming season they usually have every World Cup cycle year, but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. My goodness, how could you possibly not at least be a little shook for this team that’s beat MSU two times in a row now?

Anyway, here’s the preview...

Central Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

3 Things We Want To See

That MSU Will Be OK Without Cody White

It’s also still unclear whether Darrell Stewart or Jalen Nailor will play on Saturday, but at least Mark Dantonio did say he expects them to return soon. The team also went as far as putting Stewart as a starter on the depth chart, but LJ Scott was also on last week’s and didn’t play sooooo...who knows?

As for Cody White? His broken hand he suffered last Saturday will keep him sidelined until November. Right now we know that Brandon Sowards — listed the starter on the depth chart — Laress Nelson, Cam Chambers and CJ Hayes are healthy replacements. And Hunter Rison — oh, that’s right. He transferred to a school that is 117th in the nation in pass attempts. Great call there.

This is an incredibly obvious statement, but finding White’s replacement with two huge games on the horizon after this weekend will be key. If I had to guess, I’m thinking Nelson jumps Sowards and grabs that starting roll after this game. Just a hunch.

A Solid Pass Defense

Now, again, this sounds obvious. When would we ever want to see a bad pass defense?

The reason I state this is because I see this as the only way Northwestern beats us again. The Wildcats run game is nothing to write home about (2.6 yards per rush, 124th in the nation), and MSU’s run defense is something to fly a banner about (1.5 yards per rush, best in the whole damn country). The ground game will not be an issue on defense.

Through the air, MSU allows a 64.2 completion percentage, which is pretty bad. Northwestern will dink and dunk you with short passes until you A) Give up a TD B) Scream or C) Both.

No Injuries (please, I beg you)

Alright, I’m guilty. Another obvious statement. Yeah, I never want to see any player get hurt, ever.

The injury bug has been awful this year and I still feel like it’s not talked about enough. There has been a key injury to every position group this year other than linebacker (knock on wood) and quarterback (slam on wood).

At the very least, MSU has decent depth at every position group. However, they are stretching it thin here. They can’t afford another wide receiver injury, or another offensive lineman going down and certainly not a defensive back either.

2 Key Stats


That’s the completion percentage of Clayton Thorson against Michigan State in his last two seasons. That includes last year’s performance with his second-highest season total of 356 passing yards and his 2016 performance at Spartan Stadium when he threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

Thorson feasts against the Spartans. Let’s hope that trend stops on Saturday.


That’s the Pro Football Focus grade (a formula way over my head, but it sounds good) for Kenny Willekes. That’s good to put him THIRD in the ENTIRE COUNTRY amongst edge rushers. The former walk-on! If it wasn’t for Dantonio finding him and Willekes becoming a beast, this team is completely different.

1 Best Bet

(MSU -10.5, O/U 43.5)

I can’t believe the line is this high. I thought this would be closer to the -6 range, but here we are spotting the Wildcats a touchdown and field goal.

I would find myself crazy to look at this banged up MSU team that is incapable of blowing teams out and laying those points. This seems like an easy pick to me — 10.5 points is a ton for a team that seems to have a decent winning formula against MSU as of late.

I’m going with the Wildcats +10.5 here, but I would pay an unspeakable amount of money to be wrong here. I want a stress-free game just once this season.

Record: 3-2


What’s your best bet for this Saturday’s game vs. Northwestern?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    MSU -10.5
    (29 votes)
  • 48%
    Northwestern +10.5
    (118 votes)
  • 15%
    Over 43.5
    (37 votes)
  • 23%
    Under 43.5
    (58 votes)
242 votes total Vote Now