No. 8 Northwestern has a chance to clinch the Big Ten West division for the second time in three years this Saturday as they travel to East Lansing for a battle with the 1-3 Spartans. After split predictions from the staff over the Wisconsin upset, this week is almost unanimous.
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I was only very slightly concerned about this matchup with all of the hype that’s enveloped Northwestern since its win over Wisconsin. But Wednesday’s press conference with the players rid any of those thoughts. They seem locked in and focused on the immediate task. This is an opportunistic matchup for Mike Hankwitz’s defense, and I expect things to be in cruise control, even if it isn’t a blowout.
Lia Assimakopoulos: Northwestern 30, Michigan State 14
No disrespect to the Spartans, but I believe this weekend is NU’s easiest matchup all season, and the Wildcats should take care of business no problem. Michigan State is in the middle of a rebuilding period and has struggled a lot this season, especially on offense, so the Wildcat defense should have a field day. The offense won’t be fantastic and will likely not capitalize on a high number of turnovers again this weekend, but their efforts will be good enough to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Championship later this season.
Colin Kruse: Michigan State 14, Northwestern 10
Two words: trap game. Yes, Sparty lost to Rutgers and was obliterated by Iowa and Indiana, while their only victory came against a Michigan squad in disarray. Meanwhile, the ‘Cats suddenly have captured national attention and have forged a somewhat realistic path to the College Football Playoff after a program-defining win over the Badgers. What could possibly go wrong?
Mac Stone: Northwestern 31, Michigan State 6
Michigan State is bad. Northwestern is really, really good (at least defensively). After Wisconsin’s game against Minnesota was cancelled this weekend, I fully expect the ‘Cats to go full throttle in an effort to clinch the Big Ten West. Considering how well Northwestern’s defense played against Graham Mertz and Co., I don’t see the Spartans scoring a touchdown on Saturday. The bend-but-don’t-break mantra is here to stay.
Josh Miller: Northwestern 24, Michigan State 14
Not gonna lie. I’m worried about this one. On paper, Northwestern shouldn’t have a problem with the Spartans, and the sheer difference in talent and coaching is why I’m giving the ‘Cats the nod. But these are the games that scare me. NU is coming off an emotional victory at home, and it seems like the fan base is getting a little ahead of themselves. I can’t blame them, as it’s exciting to be ranked eighth in the country, but we’re not in Indy yet. Fitz needs to remind his players that Michigan State would love playing spoiler to a perfect season and make sure his guys continue thinking about going 1-0 every week.
Jacob Brown: Northwestern 34, Michigan State 10
Their coach is Mel Tucker. Their quarterback will either be Rocky Lombardi or Peyton Throne, whose name literally translates to Northwestern in the Rose Bowl. Northwestern covers easily.
Michael Barthelemy: Northwestern 38, Michigan State 7
Northwestern has the best defense in the conference. Michigan State has the worst offense in the conference. It may be a tall order for the ‘Cats to put up close to 40 based on the fact that they have not broken 30 since Week One and have the second fewest offensive yards per game in the Big Ten only behind the Spartans, but I think this would be the game the ‘Cats could do it. There are no consistent offensive threats on Michigan State, meaning the secondary should force a plethora of turnovers to give the offense a short field to work from. I think Michigan State is the worst team in the conference, and I think they’ll show it Saturday.
Didi Jin: Northwestern 37, Michigan State 9
#Top10Northwestern shows no signs of complacency as they steamroll the struggling Spartans in East Lansing, emphasizing its win over Wisconsin was no fluke. Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman will torch the Michigan State secondary for the best game of his career, and the run game finally re-establishes itself with true freshman Cam Porter getting in on the action with a touchdown. Roll ‘Cats roll.
Liam Warin: Northwestern 35, Michigan State 10
The one thing about the Wisconsin game people look and point at to hinder the ‘Cats this year is the offense. While Peyton Ramsey’s performance in 2020 has definitely been a step up from the subpar quarterback play for the ‘Cats in 2019, his play and value to the team will really show up against a weak Michigan State defense. Look for Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, Riley Lees and Kyric McGowan to have in on the fun as the ‘Cats make a statement offensive win against the Spartans.
5-0: Eli Karp, Ben Chasen, William Karmin, Didi Jin, Liam Warin, Sarah Effress
4-1: Lia Assimakopoulos, Dan Olinger, Mac Stone
3-0: Sydney Supple
3-1: Josh Miller
3-2: Colin Kruse
2-0: Andrew Katz
1-0: Noah Jones
1-1: Michael Barthelemy, Jack Izzo, Noah Coffman
1-3: Jacob Brown