Between now and August 31, when the Michigan State Spartans open the 2012 college football season against the Boise State Broncos we’ll be breaking down the upcoming season.
12. Eastern Michigan at Michigan State: Though Eastern Michigan has improved under Ron English lately, don’t count on them to give Michigan State a very hard time in East Lansing. The Spartans pound the Eagles early and often and win this one going away.
11. Michigan State at Central Michigan: Michigan State wastes no time getting a road test, and they will find one with Dan Enos’s Chippewas in Mount Pleasant. Despite the fact that Central Michigan will be at home in front of an excited crowd, this is largely the same group that was humbled by the Spartans last fall by a 45-7 score. Michigan State may struggle a tiny bit early, but expect them to find their footing and open the floodgates the rest of the day.
10. Michigan State at Minnesota: Minnesota hasn’t proven to be on the right track lately with personnel, and despite last season’s closer than expected win, the Spartans should find this matchup to be one of the easier ones during the Big Ten slate, despite the road venue. The Spartans’ tough defense will have an easier time with MarQuies Gray this time around.
9. Michigan State at Indiana: A toss up with Minnesota as far as relative Big Ten ease is concerned. The Spartans won’t face any type of a nasty environment, and should be able to work over the Hoosiers offensively and defensively. Last year’s game was a cakewalk in East Lansing, and expect similar results
8. Iowa at Michigan State: Things begin to get a bit trickier when the Hawkeyes come to visit for homecoming. With the exception of the last two seasons in a row most games where the Spartans and Hawkeyes clash are low scoring, hard hitting close affairs. Iowa is trending downward lately, though, and the Spartans pummeled them in Kinnick Stadium last season. Michigan State should be able to double up the Hawkeyes at home this year.
7. Boise State at Michigan State: The giant killer comes calling the Spartans in the season’s first game of the year. It’s an unconventional start to the season, being most teams like starting off with an easier game, but when the Broncos visit, this will feel more like a tough bowl game than a season opener. What makes this contest a bit easier to stomach, though, is Michigan State catches Boise State having to replace plenty of starters. Breaking in new players in a rowdy road environment won’t be easy for the Broncos, no matter how many big wins they’ve scored over BCS opponents recently.
6. Notre Dame at Michigan State: A classic rivalry game, the Irish are never a team to sleep on. Though they lost some key pieces from last year, Brian Kelly will bring his team into Spartan Stadium more than ready. After three years to install his system and way, Michigan State should prepare for a struggle at home. Still, though, watch for Michigan State to play well, motivated in large part thanks to revenge for last season’s beat down in South Bend.
5. Northwestern at Michigan State: The Wildcats surge into the top five hardest games by virtue of their quirky offense and propensity to steal games in East Lansing. They’ve played Michigan State tough at home the last two seasons, and will provide a challenge on the road. Prepare to sweat this one out, Spartan fans, because it might prove tougher than you think.
4. Nebraska at Michigan State: Defense will rule the day in this clash, as Michigan State attempts to get some revenge on Nebraska for last year’s heartbreaking road loss. The Spartans didn’t do anything right that day, but have a chance to rebound at home. This will be tough, considering the Cornnhuskers travel incredibly well and pack a punch, Ready yourselves for a tough Big Ten game.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State: Urban Meyer’s first Big Ten road test of the season comes at Spartan Stadium, when he brings his Buckeyes into Michigan for the only time this season. Though Ohio State has a few holes, they still should pose a challenge given the coaching change alone. Don’t expect the Buckeyes to look as incompetent as they did in last season’s loss to Michigan State. This should be an excellent match up this fall.
2. Michigan State at Wisconsin: A rematch of the Big Ten title game and last year’s magical “rocket right” game, the Badgers will prove Michigan State’s toughest road test in 2012. It’s hard to win in Madison, so if the Spartans are able to survive this game, they’ll be considered a favorite to reach Indianapolis once again this year. This might prove to be the toughest road test of the year.
1. Michigan State at Michigan: No matter the record, no matter the standing, this is always the toughest game on the schedule and the one all Spartans gun for, especially Mark Dantonio. A state divided, brother against brother, friends against friends. Though the Spartans have won two straight in Ann Arbor, expect a major push back from an improving Michigan team this year. They’ll be hungry for plenty of payback after losing four straight in the rivalry, and Michigan State will be motivated to make it five in a row. Already, all signs point to another epic struggle in the battle for Paul Bunyan.
How do you rank the games on Michigan State’s 2012 schedule? Tell us in the comments.