The No. 23 Michigan Wolverines and the No. 24 Michigan State Spartans renew their rivalry on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium.
The longtime Big Ten titans will meet for the 106th time, with the Wolverines holding a 68-32-5 all-time record. Winners of four of the last five meetings, the Spartans have an excellent opportunity of putting another dent in that one-sided record with the nation’s third best defense.
Last week, Michigan State dominated Illinois 42-3, allowing only eight first downs, three third down conversions, and a miniscule 128 total yards. It was the third game of the year the Spartans held a team to single digits, and they haven’t allowed a touchdown in two straight games.
Senior linebacker Deniscos Allen leads Michigan State with 48 total tackles, and is tied for third on the team with 3.0 sacks, while sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun has compiled 4.0 sacks and 16 total tackles, including eight for a loss of 41 yards.
Quarterback Connor Cook threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns against the Illini, and running back Jeremy Langford padded his stats with 104 yards and two touchdowns on 22 attempts. Langford is now seventh in the Big Ten with 655 yards, but tied for second with nine rushing scores.
The Wolverines have enough offensive firepower to possibly thwart Michigan State’s impressive stopping power. Last week, they put 63 points on Indiana, highlighted by quarterback Devin Gardner’s 503 yards passing, mostly to receiver Jeremy Gallon for a Big Ten-record 369 yards and two touchdowns. Gardner finished with 584 total yards, a Michigan record.
Gallon catapulted to second in the conference with 831 receiving yards and seven scores. As did running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, whose 151 yards and four rushing touchdowns on the Hoosiers were slightly overshadowed. Toussaint is tied for first in the Big Ten with 11 touchdowns.
Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio told CBS Detroit on Tuesday that he expects a huge battle, while also chiming in on what the rivalry means to him and the state.
“In this state, I’ve said this many, many times, you either grow up green or you grow up blue,” Dantonio said. “Not too many people are indifferent in that in Michigan, so it’s an exciting opportunity for our players, a great challenge for our players. It always has been. It’s a game that we point to every year. It’s a great rivalry game.
“I embrace the rivalries. It just gets you going a little bit.”
Point Spread: Michigan State favored by 6 points
Kickoff Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time
TV Channel: ABC
Prediction: Michigan State 35, Michigan 30