After a huge upset victory over the No. 7 ranked Michigan Wolverines last weekend, the Spartans will look to build on that momentum when they take on the Gophers Saturday night. In the Dantonio era, the Spartans have been fantastic in games following Michigan, but will that trend continue? Find out what the isportsMSU writers think.
Ryan Okerstrom: Michigan State carried their momentum from beating Iowa into Ann Arbor and then dispatched any thought that Michigan is back. The Spartans forced five turnovers and held Michigan to a mere 10 points on their home field. MSU is a fired up team right now. They are attempting to show everyone that last season’s 3-9 record was an anomaly and not the norm. With that said, the Spartans travel outside of the state for the first time this weekend. Minnesota is missing a few key defenders, have lost both of their conference games by giving up a combined 62 points and show no signs of improving on that side of the ball. The inept Gopher defense may be exactly what the struggling MSU offense needs to finally break loose. Meanwhile, the Michigan State defense has proven that they are for real. If the offense finally starts clicking, Minnesota’s boat will be sunk before the fourth quarter. MSU 37, Minnesota 17.
Brendan Childress: Coming off of a program win against Michigan, the Spartans have to travel to the P.J. Fleck-led Minnesota Golden Gophers in another primetime matchup. After coming off of a top ten win on the road, this game is the trap game of trap games, especially for a young team like the Spartans. One thing that bodes well for the Spartans is that under Dantonio, the Spartans record in the game after Michigan is 8-2. The Gophers are coming off of two straight losses against Maryland and Purdue, giving up a total of 62 points in the two games. Something to watch for the Spartans is who gets the carries at running back, and whether or not Scott comes back healthy. Minnesota struggles to throw the ball, and leans heavily on the run. Minnesota is led by Rodney Smith, who average 3.7 yards per carry and has two touchdowns. Michigan State ranks twelfth in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing only 2.96 yards per carry. If the offense has another clean game with no costly mistakes, the Spartans have a chance to run away from the Gophers. MSU 28, Minnesota 13.
Grant Essenmacher: Michigan State got a huge emotion boosting win last week in the Big House. Normally that could be a recipe for an emotional let down, but Mark Dantonio has been very good the week after the Michigan game in his MSU career. Minnesota is injury ridden and struggles to score, two things MSU should take advantage of. The weather could affect this game, as could the fact that MSU is traveling to Minnesota for a night game against a coach that does a great job of firing up his players. But MSU’s defense is too good right now, and it’s offense is starting to find it’s identity with Brian Lewerke improving every week. MSU 27, Minnesota 13.
Justin Frommer: I have always thought that the most challenging aspect of a rivalry game is the game that comes after it. After an emotional and physically draining week prepping for Michigan, the Michigan State Spartans rolled into the Big House and pulled off one of the best wins under coach Mark Dantonio. Since Dantonio has arrived in East Lansing, the Spartans are 8-2 following their game against the Wolverines. This week, MSU will follow the game against their in-state rivals with a trip to Minneapolis against first year head coach PJ Fleck and the Golden Gophers.
They say in football when a team has two quarterbacks, they have none. Minnesota played two different signal callers earlier in the year (Demry Croft and Conor Rhoda), but appear to have settled on Rhoda. Rhoda has not been very efficient for Minnesota this season throwing for only five touchdowns and four interceptions. The Golden Gophers get most of their offensive production from their two star running backs, Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks. For MSU to win, they must contain Smith and Brooks and force Rhoda to beat them through the air. I do not expect him to be able to do that against a Spartan secondary that has improved throughout the season. Michigan State 21, Minnesota 14.
David Harns: The Spartans leave the state of Michigan for the first time this season to take on PJ Fleck’s Gophers in Minnesota. The coaching staff figures out how to avoid a letdown and MSU shows what it could have done in Ann Arbor, had the weather not slowed them down. Michigan State 30, Minnesota 17.
Zach Manning: I’m not entirely sure what to expect from this game. Michigan State is typically ready to play in the weeks following the Michigan game, but this isn’t the same old Spartan team. This team is very young and doesn’t have the experience MSU teams have had in the past. However, I think MSU is the better team in this game and should pull out the victory. Lewerke has been a dual-threat this entire year, and that won’t change this week. I think the Spartans put together a great offensive effort, and Lewerke runs for 100 yards, while passing for 200 more. The Spartan ground game will still be led by Lewerke, but Gerald Holmes will lead all tailbacks in yards. Minnesota’s ground game could pose problems for the MSU defense, but the Spartans make enough to stops and pull away late. MSU 27, Minnesota 17.
TJ Morris: Michigan State football accomplishes a huge win against a top-ranked team and rival University of Michigan. After a big win, a team does one of two things. They either use the win as a confidence booster and they go out and play great the next game or the win makes them big headed and they go out and get smacked the next game.
I think beating Michigan is going to give the young Michigan State players the confidence they need to believe they can compete against top teams. Players were able to see what happens when they don’t turn the ball over and I believe they will take care of the ball again against Minnesota.
I believe the Spartans will play well but Minnesota will also come to play. I’m predicting that the offense will get going for Michigan State and they will be able to score 31 points. The Spartan defense will force turnovers and hold Minnesota to 14 points. MSU 31, Minnesota 14.
Nathaniel Bott: The Spartans proved they could stop the run, and will need to do so again in order to pull out a road victory over Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are fourth in the Big Ten in rushing offense, but lead only Maryland and Rutgers in passing offense. Forcing Minnesota and Conor Rhoda to throw the ball is the key to victory here.
The Spartans win the turnover battle for the third week in a row, all three via the interception, and return one for a touchdown. The defense gives the offense continuous chances with good field position, and Brian Lewerke and company capitalize enough to avoid a primetime letdown game. MSU 24, Minnesota 14.
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