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Spartan Reacts: How will Michigan State finish the 2022 season?

With Michigan State heading into its first game of the season, we want to know how fans think the year will end for the Spartans.

2022 Big Ten Conference Football Media Days 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 Spartans fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate.

The official start of the Michigan State football season is just a few days away. Coming off of the team’s best performance in nearly a decade, the Spartans enter 2022 with significantly higher expectations than 2021.

Granted, the star of last year’s team (Kenneth Walker III) may be playing on Sundays now, but MSU returns its starting quarterback (Payton Thorne), star wide receiver (Jayden Reed) and — possibly most importantly — a head coach who has the program clicking on all cylinders (Mel Tucker). Simply making a bowl game this year doesn’t feel like enough to satiate the re-energized fan base. But all of those high hopes are going to be put up against a daunting schedule with plenty of questions still to answer.

So we want to ask a few of those questions specifically. Vote on how you think this year’s MSU team will finish the season.

At first glance, and before any game is actually played, the Spartans are likely clear favorites in at least seven of their games, with games against Washington, Wisconsin and Penn State where they could enter as favorites also. But last year’s MSU squad proved it was capable of pulling an upset, so the Spartans shouldn’t be considered out of any matchup just yet.

As always, the Big Ten East appears to be significantly more difficult than the West. MSU has divisional games against two teams that start the year ranked in the Associated Press top-10. Those games alone may go a long way in determining what place the Spartans finish in the standings, and therefore what caliber of bowl game they can reach. A loss to Ohio State may not hurt Michigan State much in the national rankings, but it all but eliminates MSU from winning the conference.

One of the biggest questions facing this year’s Spartans is who will attempt to replace the production from Kenneth Walker III? For now, MSU appears to be taking the running back by committee approach. The Spartans have a room full of backs that have the talent to start on a strong Big Ten team, but without the clear experience in MSU’s system, it’s hard to know who is going to eat up that available yardage.

Finally, looking at a little smaller picture, how will the Spartans fair this week against Western Michigan? Entering the game as a three-touchdown favorite, MSU is hoping to set the tone for the entire year. But it wouldn’t be the first season opener that feels a little more stressful than expected.