Michigan State will head to Champaign this weekend to battle the Fighting Illini of Illinois. The Spartans will be down multiple players after the tunnel incident in last week’s loss to Michigan.
MSU comes in as 17-point underdogs and needs three more wins to become bowl eligible. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Big Ten Network.
Our writers break down what fans can expect in this week’s matchup.
Illinois 20, Michigan State 10
This is going to be an old school Big Ten game with limited offense, and it will be tight throughout. However, I just don’t see Michigan State being able to go on the road and put up many points on Illinois’ elite defense. I think Chase Brown and Tommy DeVito are able to do just enough offensively for the Fighting Illini to get the victory, and with Michigan State down eight players on defense due to suspensions — including several starters and contributors — I think MSU’s defense eventually falters in the fourth quarter despite a strong effort from new contributors who step up. Perhaps MSU actually makes a field goal in this one.
Illinois 33, Michigan State 10
My computer has been in love with the color orange for at least a month, so it is no surprise to me that it projects a blowout loss. That certainly could happen. It has clearly been an emotional and difficult week in the middle on an already difficult season in East Lansing. There is a chance that this team completely collapses, especially considering that an already thin roster now has several contributors suspended.
However, Illinois is not invincible. The Illini appear to be a well-coach, tough-as-nails team that executes at a high level, runs the ball and plays outstanding defense. But they are also a team that took a loss at Indiana. There is also a chance that recent events will galvanize this Spartan team, which may possess an edge in talent over the Illini, especially at the skill position. I could easily imagine a scenario where Michigan State is sharp, hits some explosive plays on offense, and outscores Illinois. I am just not betting on it.
Illinois 35, Michigan State 7
I wanted to say 10 points for Michigan State, but that would require the team to actually kick field goals now and then. The decision to kick field goals would be more likely if the long snapper was healthy and one of the kickers was actually any good. Somehow neither is the case. On the bright side, just three days until basketball season starts! Is it Monday, yet?
Illinois 24, Michigan State 7
Michigan State’s struggling offense won’t get a week off with Illinois boasting one of the stingiest defenses in the conference and in the entire country. MSU will struggle to move the ball and again only scores one touchdown. The Illini win comfortably.
Illinois 24, Michigan State 7
This game will have a similar on field story as the Michigan game. Illinois doesn’t need to throw the football to win this game. The nation’s leading rusher Chase Brown will have a big day on the ground for the Fighting Illini. Michigan State will keep this close in the first quarter, but Illinois will pull away with its great defense. The Fighting Illini are the only team in FBS that allows less than 10 points per game. The Spartans will struggle offensively.
Illinois 27, Michigan State 10
I’m going a bit bullish and I’m predicting MSU will score a touchdown in this game. Illinois has only allowed six touchdowns through eight games. SIX. It’s a defense that seemingly came out of nowhere to allow the fewest points in the nation.
Defensively, MSU is short-handed, which isn’t good for a challenged and likely distracted squad. Illinois has a mauling ground game, feature back Chase Brown will get at least 25 carries behind one of the Big Ten’s best offensive lines. While unspectacular and used somewhat sparingly, Tommy DeVito is completing an extremely efficient 72.5 percent of his passes this season with 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Some of The Only Colors staff will participate weekly in full conference picks, using Tallysight. You can keep up to date with our staff’s selections here.