Michigan State Football had a bye week last Saturday as the Spartans were given an extra week of prep ahead of this weekend’s rivalry game against Michigan.
However, there were three other games in the Big Ten Conference that were significant for the remainder of the MSU season:
1. Rutgers via Indiana, 24-17
The Spartans still have both teams on their remaining schedule and both look like very winnable games. Against the Hoosiers, Rutgers won their first home conference game since 2017. Senior quarterback Noah Vedral returned from an injury for the Scarlet Knights this week, which had a big impact on RU.
Indiana has lost two straight one-possession games, both in conference play. The Hoosiers will have a similar fight against Michigan State as the two battle it out for the Old Brass Spitoon.
Michigan State needs to win three of its last five games to earn bowl eligibility. With Michigan, Illinois and Penn State still on the Spartans’ roster, the margin for error is razor-thin. That being said, MSU will likely need to beat both the Hoosiers and Scarlet Knights to qualify for the Bowl.
Both Indiana and Rutgers are also fighting for bowl eligibility, with little room for error. While Michigan State is favored in these matchups, you can expect to get this team’s best shots.
2.) Wisconsin via Purdue, 35-24
Interim head coach Jim Leonard got his first home win as head coach when Wisconsin dominated that game against the Boilermakers from the start.
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In terms of schedule strength, this result helps Michigan State. Wisconsin can still compete in the ever-roguish Big Ten West. It also proves that the Spartans can beat good teams when they are healthy.
With wide receiver Jayden Reed, defensive tackle Jacob Slade and safety Xavier Henderson all healthy and back on the field for Michigan State, the Spartans are more likely to end the season on a strong footing.
3.) Penn State beats Minnesota 45-17
A “white out” game in Happy Valley, Penn State took over in the second half for a resounding win over the Golden Gophers.
Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan was injured, but it doesn’t seem like it would have made a difference to that result if he had been healthy. Penn State’s offense put in their best offensive performance of the season, and their defense was consistently solid, too.
This could be an issue for Michigan State considering they’re playing at Penn State to finish out the regular season. While Minnesota played at full strength against MSU and the Spartans were shorthanded, Michigan State’s 7-34 loss to the Golden Gophers does not bode well.
Minnesota has disappointed since playing MSU after losing three straight games after being proclaimed by us and others as a favorite to win the Big Ten West Division.
If the Spartans take on the Nittany Lions to end the regular season, Michigan State could potentially still be in contention for bowl eligibility, while Penn State could still be in contention for the Big Ten East division title.
Michigan State is out of the playoffs and conference championships, and getting to the bowls and/or defeating their bitter rival is about all the Spartans have to play for in 2022. With three top-25 teams still on their schedule, MSU is under a lot of pressure to pull off at least one upset to earn that bowl bid. But right now all the attention and focus is on the Wolverines.