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Spartans Reacts: Confusing optimism for Michigan State fans

MSU fans are starting to feel better about this season, but they are still hedging bets.

Michigan State v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NCAA. Throughout the year, we ask questions of the most plugged-in Michigan State fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate.

Saturday’s game against Illinois did not go as expected for Michigan State fans. Sure, it was a positive twist, but a surprise all the same.

Only 17 percent of Michigan State fans thought the Spartans would beat Illinois. But now that MSU has pulled off the upset over the Fighting Illini, the outlook on the season has clearly changed. MSU has three games left on the schedule, needing to win two of them to guarantee bowl eligibility. With Rutgers, Indiana and Penn State coming up, fans think it’s going to happen.

According to the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, roughly five-out-of-six Michigan State fans think the Spartans will get at least six wins and make a bowl game.

Note that this feeling is slightly more optimistic than the likely reality. Our most recent analysis suggests that the Spartans have closer to a two-thirds (67 percent) chance of becoming bowl eligible.

The obvious explanation for this burst of confidence is the extremely winnable games at home against Rutgers and Indiana. So far, the only conference win the Scarlet Knights have came at home against Indiana. While the Hoosiers’ only conference win was not without an enormous asterisk.

Of course, Michigan State hasn’t exactly been an example of consistency throughout the season. The Spartans dropped at least two winnable games already this season and have a starting lineup that is still unclear due to suspensions and injuries.

The Spartans head into Saturday’s game in East Lansing as a 9.5-point favorite as of press time, according to the DraftKings Sportsbook (note that the spread has changed since the question was first asked), the biggest spread in their favor since playing Akron in Week 2. Likely because of the obvious issues and question marks with the team, Michigan State fans think MSU can get the win, but aren’t too confident it will be stress-free.

Part of the problem in having too much confidence in the Spartans is a lack of consistency on both sides of the ball. Both the offense and defense have shown flashes of high-level play, while also both falling flat on big stages throughout the year.

So, when asked which side of the ball they think is the team’s strength, just a slight majority of Michigan State picked the offense over the defense.

Regardless of what happens this weekend, there will be plenty to cover. Be on the lookout next week for a new batch of Reacts survey questions.

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