clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Game Preview: Michigan State Spartans vs. Washington Huskies

Marvin Hall/The Only Colors

The No. 11/9 Michigan State football program is set for its first road game, and first true test, of the 2022 season. The Spartans travel to Seattle to take on a formidable foe in the Washington Huskies. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time and will be broadcast on ABC.

Despite being ranked in the top-11 in both the Coaches Poll and Associated Press Poll, Michigan State is a 3.5-point underdog on the road versus Washington, according to the DraftKings Sportsbook.

This is the first meeting between the two programs since the 1997 Aloha Bowl, in which Washington won. Both teams come into this matchup with similar profiles: 2-0 records and impressive statistics after beating up on lower-level competition.

This should be an entertaining contest. Let’s preview the matchup between Michigan State and Washington.

Tale of the Tape

Michigan State:
2022 Record — 2-0 (0-0 in Big Ten)

2022 Offense (per game averages) — 463 total yards, 234.5 passing yards, 228.5 rushing yards

2022 Defense (per game averages) — 279.5 total yards allowed, 198.0 passing yards allowed, 81.5 rushing yards allowed

2022 Cumulative Points Scored: 87 (43.5 ppg)

2022 Cumulative Points Allowed: 13 (6.5 ppg)

Current SP+ Ranking: 13th

2022 Record — 2-0 (0-0 in Pac-12)

2022 Offense (per game averages) — 571 total yards, 384.5 passing yards, 186.5 rushing yards

2022 Defense (per game averages) — 235.5 yards allowed, 121.5 passing yards allowed, 114 rushing yards allowed

2022 Cumulative Points Scored: 97 (48.5 ppg)

2022 Cumulative Points Allowed: 26 (13.0 ppg)

Current SP+ Ranking: 47th

Series History/All-Time Records

All-time head-to-head record: Washington leads 2-1
Current streak: Washington has won the last two meetings
Last Michigan State win: Sept. 20, 1969 (27-11)
Last Washington win: Dec. 25, 1997 (51-23, Aloha Bowl)
Michigan State all-time record: 723-472-44 (.601)
Washington all-time record: 751-462-50 (.614)

Uniform Watch:

Michigan State:

The “Stormtrooper” — all white with green accents. The white helmets feature a green stripe down the center with a green Spartan head logo on each side. The jerseys are white with green lettering and numbering, while the pants are also white.

A closer look:


It will be a “purple out” for the fans in the stands at Husky Stadium, and Washington’s uniforms will also be all purple. The Huskies will rock purple tops, purple pants and gold helmets with purple and white accents.

Previous Game Results

Michigan State 52, Akron 0

Michigan State did what it was supposed to do — thoroughly dominate against perhaps the worst team in the Mid-American Conference, and one of the worst teams in FBS. Getting a shutout at this level of college football is no small feat.

However, it wasn’t quite as pretty as the final score would indicate for Michigan State. Akron was able to move the ball downfield with relative ease in its early possessions before starting quarterback DJ Irons got hurt and came out of the game. Fortunately for MSU, the Spartans were able to force turnovers and not allow any points.

Meanwhile, quarterback Payton Thorne struggled for the second consecutive week against an inferior opponent. He missed throws, sailed balls high and threw two interceptions. These takeaways seem to be more so what fans and pundits are talking about than the actual blowout win itself.

Noah Kim, who came in briefly for an injured Thorne, threw his first career touchdown pass to Tre Mosley, the Spartans’ only passing touchdown of the game. In the rushing game, Jalen Berger and Jarek Broussard combined for 188 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Elijah Collins scored on the ground as well.

Defensively, MSU forced four turnovers (all fumble recoveries), held Akron to 22 rushing yards, recorded five sacks and obviously pitched a shutout.

For more on Michigan State’s shutout victory over Akron, check out our game recap or read over the postgame quotes.

Washington 52, Portland State 6

Much like Michigan State, Washington feasted on an inferior foe, but the Huskies’ opponent was of the FCS ranks. Washington blew out Portland State by 46 points. UW lead 14-0 after one quarter of play with a touchdown run by Cameron Davis and a touchdown pass by Michael Penix Jr. to Ja’Lynn Polk.

The Huskies then scored on an 84-yard touchdown pass from Penix to Jalen McMillan in the second quarter. Kicker Gianni Smith got the Vikings on the board with a field goal, which was then answered by Wayne Taulapapa’s six-yard rushing touchdown. UW then tacked on a field goal by Peyton Henry to take a 31-3 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, Will Nixon scored a short rushing touchdown for Washington, Smith added another field goal for Portland State and Davis scored on the ground once again. UW led 45-6 at the end of the quarter.

Washington would add one more touchdown in the fourth quarter: a two-yard run from Denzel Boston. Penix finished the game with 337 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Key Matchups

Michael Penix Jr./Washington wide receivers vs. Michigan State secondary: This one is obvious. Michigan State is only allowing 198 passing yards per game, but the competition has been weak, and at times, Western Michigan and Akron were able to move the ball on Michigan State. On the other side of the ball, Penix and the Washington offense are averaging 384.5 passing yards per game — against arguably even weaker competition than MSU. The Spartans will still have a reputation as a team offenses can pass on until proven otherwise. This is MSU’s first real test of the season to see if the secondary has improved from 2021 — when the Spartans ranked dead-last in the country in yards per game allowed (about 325). It will also be important for Jacoby Windmon and the MSU pass rush to get pressure on Penix and not let him escape the pocket.

Payton Thorne/Michigan State wide receivers vs. Washington secondary: Another obvious one here — Thorne has struggled to begin the season against a pair of MAC foes. However, Thorne is well aware of his struggles and Michigan State fans are confident that he will figure it out. Washington’s defense features a pair of experienced safeties in Asa Turner and Alex Cook, but its cornerbacks play has not been spectacular, and MSU has weapons with its wide receivers in Jayden Reed (if he plays), Keon Coleman, Tre Mosley and Germie Bernard (who was previously enrolled at UW before coming to MSU in January). The bottom line is that Thorne must play better for the Spartans to win in Seattle against Washington.

Jalen Berger/Jarek Broussard vs. Washington defensive front: In addition to Thorne elevating his game, Michigan State needs to set the tone by establishing the run in order for the Spartans to win. Washington’s rushing defense is still a question mark, allowing 114 rushing yards per game and 3.3. yards per carry. Those numbers look good on paper, but remember it was against Kent State and an FCS school in Portland State. Last season, the Huskies allowed 193.5 yards per carry and 4.7 yards per attempt. UW is a much-improved team, but likely still has a lot to work on in its rushing defense. Meanwhile, Michigan State is averaging 228.5 rushing yards per game (top-25 nationally), lead by Berger and Broussard. However, the competition has also been weak for the Spartans. The team that controls the ball on the ground will be set up to win.

Game Info

Time: Saturday, Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time (kickoff scheduled for 7:44 p.m.)
TV Channel: ABC
Location: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
Weather expectations: Most cloudy with temperatures expected to be around 63 degrees at kickoff, with winds blowing north/northeast at around five miles per hour
DraftKings Line: Michigan State +3.5


Make no mistake about it, this is going to be a difficult win for Michigan State. Husky Stadium will be raucous with its “purple out” (although, I expect plenty of Michigan State fans in the stands as well).

As Mel Tucker likes to say, what’s happened in the past isn’t necessarily predictive of the future. But Michigan State’s struggles on the West Coast during the regular season (0-13 since a 1957 victory over California) or even in the Mountain Time Zone or further west (last win at Colorado in 1984) make that history hard to ignore. In fact, the whole Big Ten Conference has historically struggled out west in the regular season.

Certainly, Tucker will have his guys ready and the program worked with experts to change around the players’ sleeping patterns, among other things, to prepare them for the travel. Still making that long of a trip takes a toll on the players’ bodies — jet lag and fatigue may be a factor and the players will also need to adjust to a new time zone.

Michigan State is familiar with Penix and vice versa. Penix played against Michigan State in 2019 versus Mark Dantonio’s Spartans and in 2020 against Tucker’s Spartans. He completed 58 passes on 80 attempts (72.5 percent) for 606 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Also, injuries could play a role here, as safety and team leader Xavier Henderson is expected to miss another game and wide receiver Jayden Reed’s status is uncertain.

This should be a good, hard-fought game. I expect it to be close throughout with Michigan State eventually walking away with the victory.

For more on Washington, please read our “Get to Know the Opponent” piece and our “5 Questions with UW Dawg Pound” article.


Which school wins on Saturday night?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Michigan State
    (136 votes)
  • 27%
    (52 votes)
188 votes total Vote Now

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.