By now, you’ve already read about the historical significance of Saturday’s Michigan vs. Michigan State game in East Lansing. For the first time since 2010, both the Wolverines and the Spartans are undefeated heading into their annual brotherly get-together.
For the first time since 1964, both teams are ranked in the Associated Press top 10.
With that said, there’s no sense in rehashing what’s been rehashed all week.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Prediction time is always fun, and there aren’t many games more exciting to forecast than this classic Big Ten rivalry, featuring a pair of teams that are roughly 60 miles apart in the state of Michigan.
Most of these predictions center around the Spartans, but it takes two to tango. There are all sorts of things that can be forecast for this one, but we’ll stick with the predictions that make the most sense and have some data to support the claim.
Spartans DE Jacub Panasiuk is among national leaders in sacks, having already racked up 5.5, with 4 solos. He’ll be head-hunting Saturday, so it’s not absurd to think he’ll get at least 1 sack on Michigan QB Cade McNamara, who’s only been sacked twice through 7 games.
The All-Big Ten-caliber edge specialist had 3 solo tackles and an assist during the Spartans’ win over Michigan in 2020. Now a senior, he’ll be ready to go out with a bang against the Wolverines. Put him down for multiple sacks.
Michigan’s rush defense has been one of the best in the nation through 7 games, coming in at No. 25 at about 116 yards allowed per game. The Wolverines have allowed just one RB to gash them for 100 yards this season, and that was Isaih Pacheco of Rutgers. Walker isn’t Pacheco; he’s a Heisman candidate who has 997 rushing yards on the year — the second-most in Division I. He’s also scored 9 TDs.
Walker will get his 100 and at least score once vs. the Wolverines on Saturday.
Michigan has the No. 5-ranked rushing offense in the country, based on the strength of its incredible RB tandem in Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins. Following a slight power outage, Corum and Haskins returned to form vs. Northwestern, both going for more than 100 yards. It was the second time this season that they both hit 100 and only the fourth time since 1940 (per UM release) that a tandem has done that at least twice in one season.
Michigan has scored 25 rushing touchdowns this season and averages just a hair more than 253 yards per game.
With that being said, the Spartans have a tough rushing defense, coming in at No. 28 in the country and allowing roughly 119 yards per game. Michigan State’s problem hasn’t been with stopping the run, it’s been with stopping the pass — and Michigan doesn’t have a fear-inducing passing game.
So if the Spartans stay solid vs. the run, they should be able to bottle up Corum and Haskins.
Prior to facing Indiana and Rutgers, MSU QB Payton Thorne had only thrown 1 pick all year. But during the past 2 games, he’s thrown a trio of interceptions (2 vs. Indiana alone). He will throw 1 Saturday vs. Michigan, likely in an attempt to make a deep throw and issue a statement to Michigan’s defense.
Who’ll get it? Put your money on DB Daxton Hill to make that play.
Michigan is an early 3.5-point favorite, according to most sports books. Those books also see an over/under of 50.5. UM and MSU will hit the over, but the Spartans will win 28-24, so says this magic crystal ball.
On top of that, the Spartans won’t trail during the entire game.
Now that’s a bold prediction, considering that UM has consistently led the majority of games of all season; it’s only trailed once, and that was during a 32-29 win over Nebraska.
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