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TOC Staff Picks: Minnesota vs. Michigan State

Can the Spartans bounce back against the Golden Gophers?

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Coming off of its first loss of the season, the schedule doesn’t get any easier for Michigan State, as the Minnesota Golden Gophers come to East Lansing on Saturday.

Associated Press Poll voters see these teams as near equals, with both receiving more than 45 points in the latest AP Poll. However, after a lackluster performance on the West Coast, bettors are favoring Minnesota in this matchup.

The betting line has Minnesota around a field goal favorite heading into Saturday. Our writers give their thoughts on what the Spartans have to do to get back on track.

Ryan O’Bleness

Michigan State 31, Minnesota 27

Michigan State matches up well against a run-first Minnesota team (although Mohamed Ibrahim is a lot to handle) and gets the bounce-back win at home. Michigan State has actually won eight games in a row at Spartan Stadium going back to 2021. Minnesota keeps it close throughout, but the defense has a much better showing and the Spartans earn a tough win.

Zach Manning

Michigan State 24, Minnesota 23

This one is going to be close. Luckily for Michigan State, Tanner Morgan isn’t as electric in the passing game as Michael Penix Jr. Where the Golden Gophers do shine is in the running game, which plays into the MSU defenses strength.

Minnesota is my pick to win the Big Ten West, so this is a good measuring stick for the Spartans to see where they stack up with the rest of the conference. Tucker has been pretty solid after losses with Michigan State, and I think Thorne and the offense do enough to edge out a win.

Kevin Knight

Michigan State 34, Minnesota 28

Minnesota has too great of a running back in Mohamed Ibrahim to be contained fully on offense. However, the lack of a potent passing game will benefit Michigan State in this one as the Spartans look to rebound from a tough road loss and open Big Ten play with a bang.

Paul Fanson

Michigan State 31, Minnesota 24

For the second week in row, my computer picks the Spartans in an upset. But, I think that it is on to something this time. First, Minnesota prefers more of a ground-based attack (as one would expect from Gophers). Fortunately, Michigan State’s strength on defense is stopping the run.

Second, I was impressed by how Payton Thorne rose to the occasion and almost put the Spartans on his back last weekend in Seattle. While it didn’t work out last time, Thorne will have the benefit of the home crowd this week and one more game of experience. I think that could be the difference.

Brad LaPlante

Michigan State 35, Minnesota 31

Minnesota has a good team. But like Michigan State before Washington, the Gophers haven’t proved anything against weak competition. History says Michigan State wins, but I really like this spread. An underdog in a game they should easily win? Give me Sparty.

Brendan Moore

Michigan State 28, Minnesota 24

Minnesota has been able to bully teams at the line of scrimmage this season. Mo Ibrahim is a weapon at running back for the Gophers. Their passing game is unproven. Chris Autman-Bell’s unfortunate injury helps Michigan State’s chances as he was the only proven wide receiver on the Minnesota roster. The Gophers are not built to expose Michigan State’s secondary.

Michigan State’s offense should be able to score. Minnesota’s defense has only allowed 17 points this season. However, it has been against inferior opponents. The Spartans have the better, faster and more explosive athletes on the field. Michigan State will pick up a nice bounce-back win against a good Minnesota team.

Amani Godfrey

Michigan State 24-20

The Michigan State Spartans were dealt with a tough matchup last week in Seattle against the Washington Huskies. The Huskies own one of the most explosive passing attacks in all of college football this season and they had their way with the Spartans’ secondary last week. Minnesota on the other hand will attempt to lean on its offensive line and establish a running game throughout the majority of Saturday’s contest, which should gift the Spartans’ defense some stops. Expect MSU quarterback Payton Thorne to build on his rather strong game against Washington last week and deliver some big throws in crunch time. As long as the Spartans keep the turnover count low, they should be in position to win this game in the fourth quarter.


Michigan State 31, Minnesota 27

Perhaps I’m a little bullish on Michigan State’s offense, maybe I’m not quite a believer in the Minnesota program (P.J. Fleck is 21-22 in B1G games), but I feel MSU is going to scrape by with a bounce-back win.

Minnesota does have an excellent run offense, but is now without its top wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell in a modest passing attack. If Jacob Slade and Jayden Reed can return, I think the Spartans can stymie the Gopher ground game while making enough big plays on the other side of the ball.

I’ll be looking at the Michigan State defensive personnel packages, if Aaron Brule is healthy enough, I am inclined to believe a 4-3-4 formation will be used considerably more to combat Minnesota’s preference of ground and pound.

Some of The Only Colors staff will participate weekly in full conference picks, using Tallysight. You can keep up to date with our staff’s selections here.