Number 4 Michigan harbors a passionate rival in the state state of michigan during the annual Paul Bunyan Trophy showdown on Saturday in prime time. The Wolverines will be hoping to go 8-0 for the first time in 2016 and snap a two-game winning streak from the Spartans in this series. Jim Harbaugh’s side are coming off a dominating 41-17 win over the No.13 Penn State behind 418 rushing yards with huge plays from running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards.
Michigan State struggled mightily in coach Mel Tucker’s third season, going 3-4 and losing its first three games of Big Ten play. However, the Spartans finally found some life offensively in a 34-28 double-overtime win over Wisconsin with quarterback Payton Throne throwing for a pair of touchdowns.
Tucker is the first coach from Michigan State to win his first two matchups against the famed Wolverines. Running back Kenneth Walker ran for touchdowns 58 and 23 yards to start the Spartans past Michigan a season ago in a battle of undefeated teams. However, Walker now plays on Sundays and Michigan State is a huge underdog against its 2022 rival.
Michigan vs. Michigan State: Need to Know
power stroke: The Wolverines had one of the best rushing offenses in the country last season, but they could be even better in 2022. Corum is expected to be on Heisman’s shortlists with 901 yards and 13 touchdowns with five regular-season games remaining. Edwards finally found his groove against the Nittany Lions, while quarterback JJ McCarthy also created lags in the running game. Only three college football teams have more rushing touchdowns than Michigan, two of which have the option.
Massive collapse: Michigan State’s run to 11-2 in 2021 has been charmed, but the fall has been brutal. With Walker and wide receiver Jalen Nailor in the NFL, the Spartans have regressed sharply on offense. Michigan State is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and no receiver is over 400 yards. The victory over Wisconsin was the first time in conference that Thorne threw for more than one touchdown in a game. That kind of effort won’t be enough against a physical Michigan defense.
Through the air: Michigan State’s passing defense remains one of the worst units in the nation and is giving up more yards per pass attempt (8.2) than North Carolina, which ranks among the worst pass defenses in the nation. However, McCarthy barely tested his arm on the march to 7-0. The second threw for less than 250 yards in five of his six starts, and 300 yards combined against Iowa and Penn State. While that might work against a loose Big Ten schedule, McCarthy will have to open his game when the Wolverines play quality competition if they make the playoffs. This seems like the perfect opportunity for Harbaugh to open up the playbook and let McCarthy get comfortable with throwing around different concepts.
How to watch Michigan vs. Michigan State live
Date: Saturday October 29 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Michigan Stadium — Ann Arbor, Michigan
TV: ABC | Direct: fuboTV (Try for free)
Michigan vs Michigan State prediction, picks
Featured game | Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State Spartans
Harbaugh still hasn’t beaten Mel Tucker since he arrived at Michigan State. That changes on Saturday. The Wolverines are the deepest, most skilled and most physical team across the board going into this game. Really, trying to find a single edge for Michigan State in this game is a wild ride. There’s always the potential for some weird rivalry game noise, but Michigan State just might not be good enough to even make things interesting. Prediction: Michigan -22
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