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Michigan State vs. Northwestern: Time, TV channel, how to watch or stream

The cross-division rivals kick off the 2021 season on Friday night!

Northwestern v Michigan State Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Michigan State Spartans hosted a top-10 Northwestern Wildcats squad (No. 8 in the CFP rankings at the time) in Spartan Stadium last season and sent NU packing with the Wildcats’ sole regular season loss. Northwestern will hope to return the favor in the season opener for both teams on Friday night on its own home turf this time. However, MSU has won six of the last seven games at Ryan Field.

All-time, Friday’s matchup marks the 60th meeting of the two Big Ten programs, and it also marks the first time since 1982 that the Spartans open the season against a Big Ten opponent. That was then head coach Muddy Waters’ third season at the helm and saw MSU fall on the road at Illinois in a 16-23 defeat. The Spartans went on to a 2-9 (2-7 Big Ten) record that season and fell to Northwestern at home on Nov. 6, 28-24.

A win for MSU on Friday night will also mark the third consecutive victory over NU, following a 31-10 win in 2019 against NU at Ryan Field and the 29-20 victory at Spartan Stadium last season. The Wildcats, meanwhile, hope to use a 35-19 Citrus Bowl win over Auburn as momentum in this matchup, despite huge roster turnover from NU’s 7-2 West Division title winning 2020 squad.

Regardless of what happened last season, buckle up, folks, because Spartan football is back for another season tomorrow night!

Michigan State Spartans (0-0) at Northwestern Wildcats (0-0)

Date: Friday, Sept. 3
Kickoff: 9:15 p.m. EST


Web/Mobile: WatchESPN/ESPN Mobile App/ESPN+
Play-by-Play: Beth Mowins
Analyst: Kirk Morrison
Sideline: Dawn Davenport

RADIO: Spartan Media Network
Play-by-Play: George Blaha
Analyst: Bill Burke
Broadcast Host: Will Tieman
Website/Mobile: Spartans app/Tune In radio
Flagship Stations: Lansing: WMMQ (94.9 FM)/WJIM (1240 AM); Detroit: WJR (760 AM)
Affiliates: 30 affiliates listed at
Satellite: Ch. 146 (Sirius), Ch. 195 (XM), Ch. 957 (

Location: Evanston, Illinois
Stadium: Ryan Field (47,330)
Surface: Natural grass
All-Time Series: MSU leads, 39-20
Series in Evanston: MSU leads, 20-11
Last Meeting: MSU 29, NU 20 (2020)
Current Series Streak: two by MSU (2019-)

Don’t forget to follow along during the game with The Only Colors on Facebook and Twitter (@TheOnlyColors) all game long, and as always here on the website in our game thread.

Streaming Advice

Still looking for a last minute solution for watching the game after finally cutting the cord during the coronavirus pandemic? Away from the home television for Labor Day Weekend already? Then be sure to check out ESPN+ for this matchup as the game is on the ESPN network.

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