FanPost

Football predictions

The season kicks offthis Friday night at 7pm on ESPN for those of you that won’t be there cheering them on.


Overall I feel like the defense will be significantly better than last year, the offense may be as well depending on the offensive line play.

Coaching will also be better as I like the changes that Tucker has made from last years staff.

Tucker is an amazing 5-1 vs top 25 teams not named OSU, and if he can keep that up we will have a good year.


Lets take a look at this years challenging schedule listed in order of difficulty:

#12 Akron
We have one preseason cupcake as opposed to UM that has 3. Hopefully this gives the O-line time to gel in the first half, and then get back up QB’s and O-linemen lots of play in the second half.


#11 Rutgers
Schiano has definitely improved Rutgers and he brought in a ton of new linemen in the portal, and a bunch of new assistants. Still this game is at home and should be an easy victory as long as we don’t give the ball away 7 times like the last time they visited in Tuckers first game.


#10 Western MI
Beat the ACC champion and the MAC champion both on the road last year, and crushed their bowl opponent. They were top 10 in total offense (we were 54th). Western will be motivated to take it to Reed and Thorne who were both Western recruits before leaving for the Spartans, and most of the team wants to show MSU they should have recruited them. Thorne’s dad is Westerns offensive coordinator. Western is no pushover but they look like a good matchup for us as they like to run more than pass, and their D-line is not very strong. Hopefully it is another game that the backup QB’s and O-lineman get much needed experience.


#9 IND
They played well below their capabilities last year and should bounce back. Allen is a good coach and they replaced both of the coordinators that struggled last year. We were the closest they came to a conference win lastyear and they crushed us in first downs, total years and time of possession. We needed a Haladay pick six, and a trick play of Hunt passing to Thorne to pull things out. However this game is at home and we should win, aswe have more talent on both sides of the ball than they do.


#8 @ ILL
They have been bad but somehow we lost the last two times we faced them, including blowing a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter at home when Barker caught a late TD pass.
They can’t beat us the same way as now Barker plays for us.
Under Bielema they are actually better, last year they beat #7 Pn St and #20 Minnesota both on the road.
The timing for this game is bad as we are coming off the OSU, WIS, UM stretch and may be banged up.
Still this ILL and we do have more talent on both sides of the ball than they do, so we should be able to win this even on the road.


#7 @Maryland
I hate playing Maryland early as every year they seem to start out strong but then fade drastically in the second half of the season as injuries mount.
Tug is a great scrambler and passer, and they return the entire offensive line and top 4 RB’s.
This is a game we would win at home, but playing them on the road in their big ten home opener is concerning.
This will be a good test of how our pass defense is going to go, and whether we can get effective pressure on the QB without letting him scramble for huge yardage.
If we want to have a good season this is the type of road game we have to win.


#6 @WA
Washington upgraded their coaching and bought in a young offensive mind who scored tons of points while coaching at IND and Fresno state.
These are all the historic MSU away pre-season games vs the Pac 10/12, the results are not pretty:
2018 @ Az ST loss
2014 @ OR loss
2008 @ California loss
1998 @ OR loss
1986 @ Az St loss
1980 @ OR loss
1978 @ USC loss
1974 @ UCLA loss
1972 @USC loss
1970 @ WA loss
1963 @ USC loss
1962 @ Stanford loss
1957 @ California win by a Duffy team that finish #3 nationally.
This is another road game that you have to win to have a good season, but being 2200 miles away, and our historical problems in the preseason against the PAC 12, make it more challenging than the Maryland game.


#5 Minnesota
Ranked #32 in the preseason AP poll, with a Vegas over/under the same as ours at 7.5 wins.
Minnesota Is probably the most underrated team in the B10.
They lost their top 3 RB’s to injury and still finished with 9 wins.
75% of their losses were by a single score, and their other loss to OSU was only by 14 which is much closer than we got.
Their D was top 10 in both scoring and total defense, but no one talks about it.
They were #2 in total defense giving up only 279 yards per game, we were #113 at 453ypg
Their 6th year QB is getting his favorite OC back, when they were last together he threw for 3,300 yards and 30 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions.
We have only played Minnesota once since 2013, but have won the last 5 games overall, and are 17-5 against them in Spartan stadium.
Even though they play well above their recruiting, we have better athletes on both sides of the ball.
If this was on the road I would predict a loss, but at home we have reasonable chance especially because it is early and hopefully we will still be healthy.


#4 WIS
Ranked #18 in the preseason AP, and have a Vegas over/under of 9 wins.
They are picked by most to win the West.
Wisconsin is coach Tuckers alma mater.
Wisconsin returns their entire offensive line, their QB, and most importantly Braelon Allen.
Allen is their huge talented RB who gained 1268 yards at 6.8 yards per carry as a freshmen last year, leading the nation in yards after contact.
The timing is bad as we have them the week after the OSU game.
Since 2013 the cumulative score has been WIS 68 MSU 6, almost as bad as the OSU games.
The Wisconsin Defense was #1 in the nation last year by a mile, giving up only 240 ypg.
The things in our favor:
Not only is it a home game, it is homecoming so the atmosphere should be great.
Their QB Mertz was a highly rated recruit but so far has not lived up to it, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns last year.
Their defense was amazing and may be again, but they lost 8 starters from last years defense.
Wisconsin has started the year ranked the last four years but fallen out of the rankings in 3 of them.
This game looks challenging even being at home.
You know it will be a steady diet of Braylon Allen runs behind a big experienced offensive line, and you know their defensive line and LB’s will give our O-line a big challenge.
It will most likely come down to whether our new coach Coleman who was hired to improve the pass rush, will be able to stop the run as well as our old coach Burton did. If we can stop Allen and force Mertz to beat us we should find a way to win.


#3 @Penn St
Ranked #27 in the preseason caches poll, have a Vegas over/under of 8.5 wins.
Pn St was ranked in the top 5 last year until Clifford got hurt at Iowa, and their season derailed.
Pn St is loaded with talent and has 30 four stars plus 3 five stars going against our 15 four stars (which include our transfer portal additions).
Clifford is back for what seems like his 10th year and has already generated over 8,000 yards of offense, and started 33 football games (44 by this years MSU game).
Their running game struggled last year, but now they have a new 5 star RB Singleton who rushed for over 6,000 yards in high school.
We have to play them on their senior day, and it is after Thanksgiving so the weather may be challenging as well.
Things in our favor:
They have had a losing conference record the last two years despite having the third best talent of any B10 team.
We have won 6 of the last 9 games against them despite being out recruited every year.
If Clifford is totally healthy then I think Penn St will probably pull this one out on his senior day.
If he is banged up or out, then we have a good chance as Tucker is a light years ahead of Franklin as a game day coach.


#2 @UM
Ranked #6 in the preseason coaches poll, and have a Vegas over/under of 9.5 wins.
Phil Steele has them ranked as the nations #1 offensive line and special teams.
This was scheduled as a home game since we played in Ann Arbor in both 2019 and 2020, but the B10 in their wisdom changed it into an away game late last year.
Apparently 38 extra home games for the wolverines was not enough, they will now have 39 more games in Ann Arbor than they have played in East Lansing.
UM will have 2 five stars and 36 fours stars on the field compared to our 15 four stars, and we have to play then after playing OSU and WIS two very physical teams so we may be banged up.
Even with Walker's heroic 5 TD game we barely squeaked by UM at home last year, giving them their only conference loss.
The situation points to a UM win but there are some factors in our favor:
Tucker and Dantoinio seem to have UM’s number and we have gone 10-4 in recent matchups, and more importantly have won 5 of the past 7 games at the big house.
UM has a new Defensive Coordinator for the third year in a row and lost 3 starters in the secondary, their best linebacker and both of their great defensive ends who accounted for all but 9 of their sacks last year.
Up until last year Harbaugh had a long history of choking in big games.
If you believe in history then MSU will once again find a way to upset UM.
UM has only beaten a Spartan team that won at least 8 games one time since 1898, in Ann Arbor back in 1955 when UM was ranked #2 in the nation.


#1 OSU
Ranked #2 in both preseason polls, and have a Vegas over under of 11.5 wins which means they think they will go undefeated in the regular season.
OSU is miles out in front of the rest of the B10 in terms of on field talent.
OSU has more 5 stars than the other 13 Big Ten teams combined, and doubled.
They will be trotting out 12 five stars and 45 four stars for only 22 positions, which means they have a 4 star back up at every position.
Consequently it is not that shocking that Tucker has been outscored 108-19 by OSU so far, and that OSU is on a six game winning streak against us by an average of score of 38-7.
This is at home but after being blasted 49-0 in the first half last year, I would be happy just to keep this one respectable and avoid injuries with WIS and UM next.


Summary
The predictions on the Spartans are all over the place most picking us 4th in the B10 East, but we are also top 15 in both polls ahead of Pn St.
Vegas has our over under at 7.5 wins, and CBS Sportsline said the under was one of their top 5 bets to place in all of college football.
According to the Vegas over under lines we play the the top five teams in the B10 this year by drawing both WIS and Minnesota from the West.

Last year seemed like catching lightning in a bottle with Kenneth Walker coming off of two years as a back up RB at Wake, and going on to be all world for us.
No one could have predicted he would win both the Doak Walker award as the top RB, and the Walter Camp award as the nation’s top overall player.
Walker's amazing year gave Thorne the opportunity to have single coverage on his top receivers, as defenses did everything they could to contain him.
We took full advantage of that using play action and flea flickers to score 12 TD’s on long passes.
When you combine that with Walkers's 18 rushing TD’s he directly caused 210 of the 414 points that the team scored, not including all his yardage that set up our field goals.
Even aside from Walkers heroics, the team was incredibly opportunistic:
The defense ranked much worse in yards allowed than they did in points allowed.
The offense ranked better in scoring than they did in gaining yards.
We improved our turnover margin by 20 from the previous year.
The teams scoring margin jumped an incredible 286 pointsfrom the previous year.
Who converts 6 fourth downs in a snow bowl against Pn St, and the Peach bowl against Pitt, despite the average distance needed being more than 6 yards each time (none were less than 3 yards)?
Who wins every single one score game (surely not Nebraska who has now set a record for the most single digit losses in a row)?
Who goes 11-2 with the worst pass defense in the entire nation?
Who wins 11 games while only outscoring its conference opponents by a measly 1 point per game?
Who wins 11 games while actually being out-gained in conference play?

I think we are actually a better team this year than last year, more athletic, more experienced, better coaching, and have better quality depth at most positions aside from the offensive line.
Unfortunately the schedule is harder with PnSt and UM both on the road, and drawing WIS and Minn from the West.
I see 6-10 wins based on the play of the offensive line, and the health of the offensive line, Thorne, Reed, Henderson, and Speed.
In case you think it is just me, Xavier Henderson the most respected player on the team just said:
"I think we're going to go as far as the offensive line takes us,"
Remember as last year showed pre-season predictions don’t mean a lot as over half of the preseason top 25 were unranked by the end of the year, and MSU who was picked last in the East with an over/under of just 4.5 wins went 11-2.

This is a FanPost, written by a member of the TOC community. It does not represent the official positions of The Only Colors, Inc.--largely because we have no official positions.