The look ahead to the 2022 schedule for ranking Michigan State’s football opponents this coming season wraps up today. The No. 1 team on the list, unsurprisingly, is the Ohio State Buckeyes.
2021 Record: 11-2 (8-1 Big Ten)
Ohio State suffered an early season upset loss at home to Oregon and had close calls against Penn State and at Nebraska. A shaky defense was the team’s Achilles’ heel and it came to the forefront as rival Michigan pummeled Ohio State in Ann Arbor by a final score of 42-27. Then a shootout in the Rose Bowl ended with a narrow 48-45 victory over Utah to end the season.
The Spartans will be facing off against the Buckeyes for the 51st time in a series that dates back to 1912. Michigan State is currently riding a six-game losing streak in the series and, while the 2016 game was a two-point difference in score between the two programs, the past five losses since then have been by an average of 35.6 points. MSU trails OSU all-time by a mark 35-15.
2022 Program Outlook
The Buckeyes will look to rebound this year from the numbing experience of allowing Michigan to walk all over the team in Ann Arbor last year, particularly after head coach Ryan Day had to endure fans all offseason and jettisoned his defensive coordinator to bring in Jim Knowles. Knowles will also be assisted by new hires Perry Eliano as safeties coach and Tim Walton as cornerbacks coach to fix that defense. The defense needs a big turnaround in consistency across positions this year after Ohio State ranked in the top-five of the Big Ten in sacks and interceptions, but just ninth in points allowed per game (22.8)
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback C.J. Stroud returns at quarterback as a preseason Heisman Trophy favorite, with wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba also returning as a go-to target for Stroud. Smith-Njigba set school records in receptions (95) and receiving yardage (1,606) last season, while Stroud had a phenomenal redshirt freshman campaign with a 71.9 percent completion percentage, 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and excellent ball security with just six interceptions. Ohio State also returns its leading rusher from last season, TreVeyon Henderson, who rushed for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns (adding four additional scores in the receiving game).
Why No. 1?
After having the most success against Ohio State during the Urban Meyer era of any Big Ten program thanks to wins in 2013 and 2015, Michigan State has been lapped by OSU multiple times ever since. Until any other program in the league starts posting the consistency in Big Ten hardware as the Buckeyes have, and posts six-straight wins including five victories averaging a 35.6-point margin, OSU is the toughest team on the schedule every year.
This game is in East Lansing with an actual crowd in the stands and year three of the Mel Tucker era. Hopefully that is enough to make this loss more circa 2016 or 2012, and less a repeat of the past two nightmares. But expect a win for the Buckeyes.
Catch up on the rankings here:
No. 12 Akron Zips
No. 11 Western Michigan Broncos
No. 10: Indiana Hoosiers
No. 9: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
No. 8: Illinois Fighting Illini
No. 7: Maryland Terrapins
No. 6: Minnesota Golden Gophers
No 5: Michigan Wolverines
No. 4: Penn State Nittany Lions
No. 3: Wisconsin Badgers
No. 2: Washington Huskies
No 1: Ohio State Buckeyes
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|