It is just over a month until fall camps starts for college football with “Week Zero “ set for Aug. 27 for opening games of the season. With that in mind, it’s time to look ahead to the schedule and break down the hierarchy of opponents that the Michigan State Spartans will face this upcoming season.
I am going to look ahead over the next few weeks and rank Michigan State’s opponents this coming season from easiest (No. 12) to most difficult (No. 1). Up first is the opponent I deem the easiest: the Akron Zips.
2021 Record: 2-10
It seems like just yesterday that Penn State head coach James Franklin was declaring that every opponent his team faced was like Akron to him. Things sure have gone south for the Zips since then, with Akron having won just three games over the last three seasons combined (including going 0-12 in 2019). However, familiar face Joe Moorhead — the former offensive coordinator at Penn State the season prior to Franklin’s Akron remark — is the new head coach at the Ohio Mid-American Conference program.
The Spartans will be facing off against Akron for the first time in over a century when the Zips visit East Lansing on Sept. 10. The programs played back-to-back at College Field when Michigan State was Michigan Agricultural College in 1913 and 1914. MSU went 2-0 in the matchups, winning 41-0 in 1913 and 75-6 in 1914.
2022 Program Outlook
The MAC is a difficult conference to gauge how league play may turn out from year to year. After all, just last season former Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi led Northern Illinois, a last-place team in 2020, to the MAC league title in 2021. However, in-conference success does not necessarily equate to non-conference Power Five matchups.
Moorhead will have his hands full in his first year at the helm trying to run his offense behind an incredibly young offensive line. Minnesota transfer running back Cam Wiley will likely prove an important player as a result. At the end of the day, the Zips are probably in the best case scenario going to be a .500 program heading to a bowl at the end of the season, though. Even that feels like a stretch in late June, but Akron hopes to show improvement in 2022.
Why No. 12?
Even with the road trip to Washington looming the following week, there is no way this game is close by halftime if Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker and staff are doing their jobs. The Zips are one of the worst teams in the MAC over the past several years and Moorhead will have his work cut out for him with such a young squad.
The Spartans get a win here, no question, and the focus will be on ironing out any kinks the coaching staff found in the season opener ahead of the trip out west to Seattle the following week.
2022 MSU Football Schedule
|Sept. 2||Western Michigan||East Lansing, MI||7:00 PM||ESPN|
|Sept. 10||Akron||East Lansing, MI||4:00 PM||BTN|
|Sept. 17||Washington||Seattle, WA||7:30 PM||ABC|
|Sept. 24||Minnesota||East Lansing, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Oct. 1||Maryland||College Park, MD||TBA||TBA|
|Oct. 8||Ohio State||East Lansing, MI|
|Oct. 15||Wisconsin||East Lansing, MI||3:30/4:00 PM||TBA|
|Oct. 29||Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 5||Illinois||Champaign, IL||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 12||Rutgers||East Lansing, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 19||Indiana||East Lansing, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 26||Penn State||State College, PA||TBA||TBA|