College Football Game of the Week: No. 8 Michigan State vs. No. 6 Michigan
Halloween weekend was supposed to be the Big Ten East Bonanza. Following last weekend’s nine-overtime debacle by Penn State, the weekend has lost a bit of its luster, but nothing can diminish just how important this year’s battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy is.
The No. 6 Michigan Wolverines are set to head into East Lansing to take on the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans on Saturday afternoon. Both squads come into this matchup at 7-0 on the season and 4-0 in Big Ten play.
While chaos in the college football world has been swirling around these two teams, both have been able to stay steady.
The Spartans have won nine of the last 13 battles for Bunyan, but the Wolverines enter Saturday’s contest as four-point favorites.
Michigan has been hanging its hat on the running game all season long, rushing for 253.3 yards per game. Sophomore running back Blake Corum has been a force on the ground this year tallying 729 yards and 10 touchdowns, all while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
It should be a great battle between Corum and the Michigan State run defense who has only given up 5 total rushing touchdowns this year while allowing just 121.0 rushing yards per game.
Cade McNamara, the signal-caller for Michigan, has been solid this season but he has not been asked to take very many risks up to this point.
He will have to take some on Saturday when he faces his stiffest defense yet. McNamara has only thrown a touchdown in three of Michigan’s seven games this season but has been steadily increasing his passing attempts each week.
He attempted 53 passes in the first four games of the season but has attempted 93 passes in the last three weeks.
Michigan State has had a super balanced offensive attack this season, passing for 251.3 yards per game and rushing for 200.4 yards per game.
Quarterback Payton Thorne has been outstanding so far this year, throwing for 1,701 yards, 15 touchdowns, and just four interceptions.
His backfield partner has had a great season as well. Kenneth Walker III has rushed for 997 yards and nine touchdowns in just seven games.
This will be the first real test for either of these teams, and the winner will have the upper hand on the rest of the Big Ten East.
Both teams still have to take on Ohio State and Penn State later on, but winning this game would prove to the nation that they are legitimate contenders.
Jim Harbaugh has certainly dealt with his fair share of criticism in his time at Michigan, but he once again has an opportunity to prove himself on a big stage.
On the other side, Mel Tucker has his Spartans playing better football than anyone expected them to be in his second year at the helm.
It should be a hard-fought defensive battle that opens up a bit in the second half. Michigan wins it with a late drive to set up a game-winning field goal from Jake Moody.
Prediction: No. 8 Michigan 27, No. 6 Michigan State 24
Trevor Grady is a fourth-year majoring in supply chain management. To contact him, email email@example.com.