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Predicting the 2013 Michigan State football schedule

That's right, I… your fearless editor am back at it again with the third and final installment of Predicting the Schedule for this Wednesday. So before we go further, let us link you to all my previous prognostications…. 

Northwestern
Iowa
Penn State
Illinois

Now back to the business at hand as we switch it back over to the Legends division side of things and take an in-depth look at a team that has polarized most in the prognostication world. Some see the Spartans as true contenders for a division title and others see them as a team on the outside looking in. How do I see them stacking up in 2013? Let's take a look, shall we? 

2013 Schedule:

Date   Opponent Time/TV
Friday

Aug. 30
Broncos Western Michigan Broncos

Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
8:00 p.m. ET

BTN/BTN2Go
Saturday

Sept. 7
Bulls USF Bulls

Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
12:00 p.m. ET

ESPN2 or ESPNU
Saturday

Sept. 14
Penguins Youngstown State Penguins 

Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
2:00 p.m. ET

BTN/BTN2Go
Saturday

Sept. 21
Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Fighting Irish 

Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
3:30 p.m. ET

NBC
Saturday

Sept. 28
Open Date
Saturday

Oct. 5
Hawkeyes at Iowa Hawkeyes 

Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
12:00 p.m. ET

TV TBA
Saturday

Oct. 12
Hoosiers Indiana Hoosiers (HC)

Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
12:00 p.m. ET

TV TBA
Saturday

Oct. 19
Boilermakers Purdue Boilermakers 

Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
TBA
Saturday

Oct. 26
Fighting Illini at Illinois Fighting Illini 

Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
3:30 p.m. ET

TV TBA
Saturday

Nov. 2
Wolverines Michigan Wolverines 

Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
TBA
Saturday

Nov. 9
Open Date
Saturday

Nov. 16
Cornhuskers at Nebraska Cornhuskers 

Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
TBA
Saturday

Nov. 23
Wildcats at Northwestern Wildcats 

Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
TBA
Saturday

Nov. 30
Gophers Minnesota Golden Gophers 

Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
TBA
Saturday

Dec. 7
Big Ten Big Ten Championship Game

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
8:00 p.m. ET

FOX

My Picks:

Aug. 30 – vs. Western Michigan: WIN
The Broncos are going to feel like their a member of the Big Ten when 2013 is all said and done. They kick off their season against in-state foe MSU and then proceed to play two more B1G teams in the non-conference slate. Well, expect the hosts to take care of part one of the butt-kicking WMU is going to take from the conference. Western Michigan just isn't on the level it used to be and MSU's defense is vastly superior to anything the Broncos could throw at them. The only way this game is a loss is if Greg Jennings comes back to Michigan and magically plays QB, RB, and WR for WMU. This game could be ugly.

Sept. 7 – vs. South Florida: WIN
If it weren't for ND on the schedule in a few weeks, the game against the Bulls, now led by rising star Willie Taggart would easily be the most difficult game on the Spartans non-conference plate. Don't sleep on this team – they will provide a challenge to the MSU defense, that's just the nature of how Taggart likes to play offense. However, expect the Spartans to also wear down the Bulls in this one and pull away in the 2nd half after getting a scare in the 1st.

Sept. 14 – vs. Youngstown State: WIN
Typical FCS foe in this one. Chalk up a W, but don't expect MSU to lay an egg like it did last season in this game. They'll remember the challenge the Penguins put up for a little over a half and not let it happen again. Will MSU be able to skunk YSU is the question in this one.

Sept. 21 – vs. Notre Dame: LOSS
Yes, you can throw records out of the window in rivalry games. Yes, this game is in Spartan Stadium. Yes, there's no Manti Te'o or Everett Golson. Those are all things Spartans fans are likely to point to as to why they'll win this game. Well, don't sleep on ND's defense folks. Just because Te'o is gone doesn't mean they aren't going to be just as good, if not better (and I'm leaning towards the latter in this one). Tommy Reese vs. whomever of the four QB's in the battle comes out… Amazingly, I'm going with Tommy Reese. Hey, sorry, at least he's played in one of these and will be able to handle the pressure. He'll also be handing off to a better stable of running backs. Sorry, Spartan fan, you are losing this one.

Oct. 5 – at Iowa: WIN
Oh, would you look at that… Finally a road game. Must be nice to live life in the first third of the season in the comfort of your own home, huh? Luckily the first road challenge is against a team that is as offensively challenged, if not more so than the Spartans. They also aren't nearly as good defensively. I expect this to be the game where we see whomever the QB is finally pick this team up and win them a football game. It'll be close until the 4th quarter, but only because Kinnick is one of the toughest road tests in the conference.

Oct. 12 – vs. Indiana: WIN
These two played one hell of a game last season, with MSU winning a thrilling game 31-27 over the Hoosiers. It proved to be a vital win as without it there's no bowl game for Sparty last year. However, this isn't last year and the Hoosiers are vastly improved on the defensive side of the ball (it's hard to be worse than they have been coming into this season). The question for me in this game is who's offense will make a mistake first? In my head I see that being Indiana thanks to the fierce D the Spartans are expected to put up and that answer means another close win for MSU at home.

Oct. 19 – vs. Purdue: WIN
So, there is really nothing you can draw from history between these two teams and that's because it's been two seasons since they last met (2010 was a 35-31 MSU W) and Purdue is a different team with a different head coach in 2013. This game could be very intriguing or it could be very much a blowout. It all depends on what each offense actually looks like this year. Rob Henry is an experienced starter for the Boilers and that will always give them a fighting chance. However, I think we see MSU's running game rounding into form this week and that's not good news for a Purdue team that is likely to struggle against the run in 2013. So, give me MSU in a hard-nosed grind out performance at home.

Oct. 26 – at Illinois: WIN
Michigan State won't be as good as last year, but they may have a better record and that's because they get to replace Ohio State and Wisconsin with the likes of Illinois and Purdue. This week it's their 3rd straight against the Leaders division and they'll be looking to go 3-0. Expect it to happen. This is a mismatch of mismatches between cross-division foes. Luckily for those of us who are going to be watching more than one game we'll be able to tune this one out by halftime. Only way this isn't a blowout is if MSU's offense is worse than it was last season and hopefully by this time in 2013 they've got the QB issue sorted out. If not, this is a lost season by this point in time. But, I don't see that happening, so chalk up a 3-0 record against the Leaders division for Sparty.

Nov. 2 – vs. Michigan: LOSS
So, the Big Ten schedule makers really gave MSU a gift up front in the Big Ten, only to have MSU open it up to find snakes on the inside. Snakes in the form of three straight against the likely top of the Legends division heap. So, while I have MSU coming into this game 7-1 the fun is going to end here and end quickly. Sure, MSU has gotten on the same level as "big brother" in recent years, that's more due to Michigan having to rebuild and MSU already being rebuilt under Dantonio. That all levels itself out in 2013 and while this game is at home (their 7th out of first 9 btw) it won't matter. Michigan is likely to have Jake Ryan back in time for this pivotal game and Hoke would love nothing more than to start a true winning streak after last years 12-10 nailbiter of a sleeper (if that makes any sense to you….). Michigan has the better talent at the skill positions on offense and the better QB – I expect Fitz and Derrick Green to be a dynamo in the backfield and they surprisingly make MSU look silly at home in this one.

Nov. 16 – at Nebraska: LOSS
Talk about back loading a schedule huh? MSU is likely a ranked team still at this point in time and it could be loser goes home in the division race for good here. The problem for MSU isn't just that they are going into Lincoln for this game, it's also that they are going up against an elite RB in Ameer Abdullah, a veteran QB in Taylor Martinez and perhaps the deepest and most talented group of receivers that has ever stepped foot on the field at Memorial Stadium. MSU can hope to contain one of those three, but I don't see them getting two of the three – which is what will be needed to take down the Huskers at home. Sorry MSU, your title hopes get dashed in mid-November.

Nov. 23 – at Northwestern: LOSS
Northwestern – everyone's dark horse pick for the Legends division title. I don't think they should be a dark horse as I see them as a legit contender from the get go, but MSU could be reeling from two straight against the top of the Legends coming into this one and I expect that reeling feeling to continue to roll downhill. This is a nightmare matchup for MSU because it's strength vs. strength and what I mean by that is what MSU prides itself on defensively (speed and aggressiveness) is exactly what Northwestern uses against opposing defenses. That's the beauty of what NU does offensively, they have the ability to twist an opponents perceived strength into a weakness. What could save MSU is if they can win the battles up front and that won't be an easy task against a solid set of lines for Northwestern. Evanston could be rocking in this one and that's because they'll win and keep themselves alive in the drive for Indy. MSU comes out of this as true pretenders to the division crown, losing all three against the top contenders inside the division.

Nov. 30 – vs. Minnesota: WIN
Poor Minnesota…. You want to talk about a pissed off football team, you're looking at it to end the season. Just like the week before and frankly like many of the Big Ten games MSU is going to play this year, it will all come down to line play. Watching the MSU D-Line vs. Minnesota's O-Line is going to be the most fun part of this game because both sets of lines have taken on the personality of their coaches – that is to say they are both mean and nasty right to and sometimes through the whistle. This is the one game MSU should win on talent alone, but it won't be easy as Minny could be fighting for their bowl game lives in this one as well. It's at home, so give the win to the Spartans.

Overall Record: 8-4
Big Ten Record: 5-3

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college football for nearly half a decade. He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadgers.com and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com

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