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TOC Staff Picks: Michigan State vs. Miami (FL)

Can the Spartans find a way to win their biggest test thus far?

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Michigan State fans have enjoyed the first two games of the 2021 season, thanks to a pair of strong offensive showings, and a defense that has been fairly stout.

As we enter Week Three, however, the Spartans will get their biggest test of the season thus far. The No. 24-ranked Miami (FL) Hurricanes haven’t looked great to open the season, but have a veteran quarterback and talented playmakers.

With the game just a day away, check out what our writers have to say about the Spartans’ trip to Miami.

Ryan O’Bleness

Miami 31, Michigan State 28

Michigan State entered the 2021 season with low expectations, and has exceeded those expectations so far with a 2-0 start in 2021, but Miami (FL) poses the toughest challenge yet. Miami, however, came into the season with a lot of hype (as usual), but has not been very impressive thus far, getting blown out by Alabama and barely escaping an upset by Appalachian State. Miami has certainly shown vulnerabilities. With that said, playing the Hurricanes on the road in the heat and humidity in Miami Gardens may be too big of a moment for the Spartans right now, as the team is still finding its identity. I think we see a close, fun game throughout, but Miami pulls it out.

Matt Sheehan

Miami 31, Michigan State 24

This one is looking a lot better than it was a few weeks ago, but I still have to opt for the team with a quarterback that’s older than a handful of NFL starting quarterbacks. It’s a close game, but D’Eriq King’s experience combined with Miami’s athletes are a tad too much to overcome in Hard Rock Stadium.

Paul Fanson

Miami 30, Michigan State 25

I want to pick Michigan State to win this game. I really do. So far this year, the Spartans have been better than expected and the Hurricanes have been worse. This game was projected to have a spread of 17 points just a few weeks ago, and now it is down to 6.5 points. While that is an improvement, it means that MSU is still the underdog.

My computer projects that MSU will cover, yet still lose. Based on the recent history of MSU playing Power Five teams on the road, that seems plausible and it is my official pick this week. Miami will play its best game of the season so far, while MSU will make just one mistake too many in the fourth quarter, as the South Florida humidity starts to wear on the Green and White.

Zach Manning

Miami 27, Michigan State 24

The Spartans can certainly win this game, and I have enjoyed watching a Michigan State offense that is capable of moving the ball. But this game still feels just a bit out of reach to me.

I haven’t fully bought into the Spartans just yet. This game can certainly make me a believer, though. I like pieces of this MSU team, but others scare me, and I think Miami will take advantage of D’Eriq King’s ability to run the football. King and the Hurricanes will sneak out a home win with another late field goal.

Kevin Knight

Miami 38, Michigan State 31

Miami looks beatable, but still presents a tough early test for this Spartan squad. The game should be a lot more competitive than expected during the preseason, but the heat and humidity will likely prove too much late in the game and MSU fades off just enough on both sides of the ball to prevent a road win.

David Harns

Michigan State 31, Miami 21

MSU keeps the momentum going, beating the Hurricanes with a mixture of solid running and decent passing.

Austen Flores

Michigan State 27, Miami 21

Both teams are moving in opposite directions as Miami is barely clinging to a top-25 ranking while Michigan State is knocking on the door. I see the game being close despite the contrasts in momentum — D’Eriq King is super dynamic and playing at home, but MSU is looking to make a statement that it is for real.


Miami 31, Michigan State 27

When programs ascend, it is rarely a straight line to the top, as there are speed bumps. This is a speed bump. The Spartan defensive line injuries are concerning and I believe will be a factor here.

Matt Hoeppner

Michigan State 34, Miami 32

Well the optimistic homerism worked in Week One when I predicted Michigan State to win based on a hunch, and I am going to keep it riding for as long as MSU is undefeated. Miami is the most athletic team the Spartans have faced, and D’Eriq King is a difference-maker at quarterback. But the Miami offense has been nothing special through the first two games, and I am not so sure that they are poised to get right against a Michigan State defense that has been playing faster and more aggressively than it did last year.

On the flip side, the Miami defense has been mediocre at best, too. The Hurricanes were spanked by Alabama and gave up 23 points to Appalachian State at home last week. Michigan State’s offense has been humming along, and Payton Thorne seems to have a good grasp of what to do within the framework of the offense.

I think this will be a back and forth game, but it will come down to Thorne leading a final scoring drive and Matt Coghlin nailing a game-winner for the Spartans.

Throughout the year, several members of TOC will participate in Big Ten picks using Tallysight. You can keep up with those picks here: