July 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

SI calls Michigan State-Oregon best nonconference football game to watch

One Sports Illustrated writer calls MSU quarterback Connor Cook underrated. (Dale G. Young / Detroit News)

Michigan State’s showdown with Oregon is the top nonconference football game to watch this season, according to Sports Illustrated.

According to outgoing SI.com college sports writer Stewart Mandel, the Sept. 6 game at Oregon is tops because it is expected to be a study in contrasts.

“Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Ducks' blur offense will face off with coordinator Pat Narduzzi's perennially stingy defense, which ranked No. 1 nationally following last season's Rose Bowl triumph,” Mandel wrote. “Meanwhile, underrated Spartans quarterback Connor Cook could provide a nice litmus test for an Oregon defense that loses longtime coordinator Nick Aliotti but returns All-America cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olumu.”

The Oregon game comes in the second week of the season for MSU. The Spartans open the season at home against Jacksonville State on Aug. 29.