Our weekly predictions roll along as our staff selects a projected winner between in a pivotal conference matchup at Ryan Field this weekend. Michigan State is favored in this one, but the ‘Cats have gotten
Noah Coffman: Northwestern 20, Michigan State 15
I’m usually the pessimistic one of the bunch, but it’s hard to shake both the excitement of conference play beginning and the feeling that the Wildcats just have a chokehold on Brian Lewerke and the Spartans. Hunter Johnson and the defense are rounding into form, and though this one won’t be pretty by any stretch, if Pat Fitzgerald’s bunch executes, Northwestern should be able to take it.
Joe Weinberg: Northwestern 24, Michigan State 20
Bennett Skowronek has a career day for the ‘Cats as they’re forced to go to the air against Michigan State’s dominant front-seven. Brian Lewerke gets it close toward the end, but a few key turnovers down the stretch give the Wildcats the W.
Avery Zimmerman: Michigan State 20, Northwestern 14
I think Northwestern gets out to a quick start behind an amped up crowd, but Michigan State’s superior talent and athleticism on defense wins the game for Sparty.
Colin Kruse: Northwestern 14, Michigan State 10
Folks, this is going to be an ugly one. Michigan State’s defense is one of the best in the nation and will slow down the ‘Cats offense early and often. However, as seen last week against ASU, Sparty has a terrible offense and makes mental errors. Hunter Johnson will do just enough to get the offense over the hump, and the ‘Cats’ defense will stifle Brian Lewerke and company. With students being on campus, Ryan Field should have a solid home field advantage. I'll take NU in a close one.
Jacob Brown: Michigan State 10, Northwestern 7
The over/under for this game could be 3 points and I would take the under. Not actually, but I don’t expect the game to get anywhere close to 39.5. I’d take NU at +9.5 and the under. I think we see an ugly game, with both quarterbacks struggling. Elijah Collins and the MSU o-line bully Northwestern on the ground, but Brian Lewerke makes a few mistakes to keep NU in it. NU keeps it close, and Hunter leads a heroic late-game drive, but Charlie Kuhbander is wide left from 30 yards on the game-tying field goal as time expires.
Eli Karp: Northwestern 23, Michigan State 17
Seemingly for the last three years it seems like Northwestern hasn’t had a great chance going into any matchup with Michigan State. And yet they win. This year isn’t any different. Even without the Spartan-killing firm of Thorson and Nagel, Northwestern finds a way to make it four straight over Mark Dantonio’s squad. I see the Brian Lewerke-led MSU offense continuing to move the ball and continuing to score at a rate that doesn’t keep up. Hunter’s legs will be busy on both designed runs and scrambles, and that added dimension could open up things in the passing attack. Welcome back to 11 a.m. kickoffs at Ryan Field, folks.
Lia Assimakopoulos: Northwestern 20, Michigan State 17
Tyler Sexton-Holtmeier: Michigan State 17, Northwestern 10
Northwestern won’t extend their winning streak against Michigan State to a school record four, as they struggle to run the ball against Michigan State’s stingy defense. While Northwestern’s run game falters, Michigan State will jump out to an early lead behind some big runs from Elijah Collins. The Northwestern defense will settle in and force a couple turnovers, but it won’t be enough. Between the early deficit and lack of a run game, Hunter Johnson will be forced to throw the ball more than he is comfortable with. Johnson will once again show some flashes but ultimately Northwestern’s final drive will stall out around midfield.
William Karmin: Northwestern 20, Michigan State 17
Northwestern must win this game to stay in contention for the Big Ten West. I anticipate the team will play with a sense of urgency. Offensively, the offensive line will need to hold its own against the Michigan State front seven. With solid line play, Isaiah Bowser and Drake Anderson should keep the chains moving for Northwestern’s offense. The running backs play will allow Hunter Johnson to get into a rhythm. If HJ does not throw an interception, Northwestern’s offense will be in a position to win the game. Defensively, the Wildcats shouldn't have too many problems. If NU’s defense can come up with a turnover, the Wildcats will win this game.
2019 Inside NU Prediction Standings:
Noah Coffman: 2-0
Joe Weinberg: 2-0
Caleb Friedman: 1-0
Lucio Vainesman: 1-0
Avery Zimmerman: 1-1
Matt Albert: 1-1
Eli Karp: 1-1
Lia Assimakopoulos: 1-1
Colin Kruse: 1-1
William Karmin: 1-1
Graham Brennan: 0-1