We're unanimous in our picks this week, and not in Northwestern's favor.
Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)
This isn't going to be a blowout. Michigan State is a very good team, but it's not a juggernaut. Were it not for five Nebraska turnovers, the Spartans should have lost to the Huskers last week. I expect this to be a close game in the first half, but Michigan State will get a defensive touchdown in the third quarter, and the NU offense won't be able to keep up. MSU running back Jeremy Langford will have a second consecutive big game and carry his team in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State 24, Northwestern 13
Chris Johnson (@ChrisDJohnsonn)
For the most part, Northwestern’s defense has played well during its six-game losing streak. It’s been the offense – the unit most believed Northwestern would lean on to win games this season – that has struggled. That trend needs to end Saturday. Michigan State’s defense is merciless.
If Northwestern is careless with the ball or too predictable in its play calling, the Spartans will hold the Wildcats to single-digit points. Northwestern needs to get creative, needs to find a weakness in Pat Narduzzi’s unit, lest this game get real ugly, real fast. Kain Colter and the Wildcats’ offense could struggle to string together long drives, but if the defense continues to play well, a few big plays might be all Northwestern needs to secure the outcome it desires. The Spartans’ defense is not impenetrable, as Nebraska proved last week, but it is good enough to hold the Wildcats to less than three touchdowns. Northwestern’s defense won’t be able to do the same to Michigan State’s offense.
Michigan State 24, Northwestern 17
Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
It's possible that Northwestern will step up with its back completely against the wall, but nothing they've shown to this point makes that likely. Michigan State has one of the top run defenses in the country and an offense that has gotten better nearly every week. Northwestern's only hope in this game is that the Spartans' defense has a slightly off day like it did last week against Nebraska, and NU is able to pick off Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook once or twice. Otherwise, it will be more of the same for the Wildcats in the loss column this week.
Michigan State 28, Northwestern 13
Josh Rosenblat (@JMRosenblat)
Northwestern should be able to keep the game close early in part because this is a potential trap game for Michigan State and also Northwestern’s defense is pretty solid. The issue for Northwestern, though, is whether they will get any offensive firepower. Michigan State’s defense is one of the best in the nation and Northwestern’s offense hasn’t exactly been robust as of late. After not scoring a touchdown in regulation last week against Michigan, it’s hard to see the Wildcats getting into the endzone often against MSU. Michigan State will eventually pull away in the second half, ending Northwestern’s hopes of bowl eligibility this season.
Michigan State 17, Northwestern 6
Nate Williams (@BigEasyCat44)
I dont see this one going well for the Cats at all. I think only chance NU has is if they can somehow get their passing game started, but I flat out don't see it happening with the way our OL has been performing. I think Sparty's offense has been playing very well recently. If this were four weeks ago, I would say it would be a wash, but its now.
I just really don't see NU doing anything special after it's all said and done. Special teams can't help us and I really don't see us converting inside the redzone. So all in all I think it will be a 27-10 win for the Spartans.
Michigan State 27, Northwestern 10
Henry Bushnell (@HenryBushnell)
It will be cold. There will be wind. There likely won't be many students in the stands. And there likely won't be much offense on either side. All in all, it likely won't be a pretty game, unless you're a Big Ten football traditionalist. If I were offered a prop bet and some good odds, I'd put money on the two defenses scoring more combined touchdowns than the two offenses -- if there are any touchdowns scored at all, that is. Despite the X's and O's, I believe Northwestern has a legitimate shot to win. But with every deflating loss, it gets more difficult to rebound with positivity, and this Michigan State team is as tough as it gets, both physically and mentally. The Spartans will come in motivated and focused, and I believe will book their trip to Indianapolis.
Michigan State 13, Northwestern 6