Michigan vs. Michigan State prediction roundtable with the Campus Insiders staff. Breaking down what will happen in Saturday’s rivalry showdown between the Wolverines and Spartans.
Last year, as the clock wound down, I was all ready to accept that the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry was about to swing back to the Wolverines and their savior, Jim Harbaugh. Then I laughed at myself and everyone else as the Spartans broke their hearts. There’s no question Michigan is the (much, much) better team this season as Mark Dantonio suffers through his worst campaign in East Lansing. But this rivalry is known for its surprises, so how about another one? Michigan State somehow pulls out a 38-35 win.
The real question here is whether or not Jim Harbaugh goes for two when his team is up by 25 late in the fourth quarter. He has a tremendous amount of respect for Mark Dantonio, but every game is a new chance to add style points for the CFP committee. This is Dantonio’s worst team during his time in East Lansing. There will be no miracles this time around.
That Michigan defense is a killer, and the Spartans are not the same team without Connor Cook. Jim Harbaugh may choose to not punt at all just to avoid a repeat of last season – Wilton Speight could just heave it up and call 500 like they were playing jackpot instead — but the Wolverines are going to dominate this game. Jake Butt will find himself on one of Speight’s touchdown throws, and Michigan will have this win wrapped up by the third quarter.
It’s hard to believe that Michigan State was in the College Football Playoff last season and are now on the verge on not even making the postseason, but that is the scenario in which the Spartans find themselves entering this game. The Wolverines will move to 8-0 for the first time in more than a decade, and they will make up for last year’s disastrous muffed punt that Jalen Watts-Jackson picked up and took to the end zone to stun the sold-out crowd at Michigan Stadium. It’s a rivalry game, but Michigan is the significantly better team.
Michigan State needed a miracle to pull out the win against Michigan last season. They will need about 5,000 of them this year, as the Spartans are struggling mightily, and the Wolverines are playing like one of the best teams in the nation. This will be ugly, as Harbaugh isn’t exactly the type of guy to let up when he has someone by the neck.