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Detroit News predictions: Michigan at Michigan State

The Detroit News
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh might just be showing off a thumbs-up again this weekend after a game at Michigan State.

Matt Charboneau, Angelique S. Chengelis, John Niyo and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News offer their predictions on the outcome of Saturday's Michigan vs. Michigan State game at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing (noon, Fox/760, 950).

Matt Charboneau

With two of the top defenses in the nation squaring off, the odds of this game being close are pretty good, and that’s exactly what I expect. Michigan has started to find an offensive rhythm while Michigan State has been slower to do the same. That, alone, should point to a Wolverines' victory, but they haven’t beaten a ranked opponent on the road since 2006 and the Spartans might just be building some momentum after last week’s upset win at Penn State. It amounts, essentially, to a toss-up, but someone’s gotta win. Michigan State, 20-17

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Angelique S. Chengelis

Nothing I like more than a great defensive game and it sure seems like that’s where this version of the Michigan-Michigan State game is headed. Michigan hasn’t defeated a ranked team on the road in a long time. Go back to 2006. The Wolverines had their first chance in the opener at Notre Dame, and after starting in a 14-0 hole, climbed back with a chance to tie or win, but a fumble erased that chance. The only other road game was a 20-17 comeback win at Northwestern after spotting the Wildcats a 17-point advantage. Moral of the story: Michigan has to start fast if it hopes to win. Michigan’s offense is playing with a high level of confidence. A lot of that starts with quarterback Shea Patterson, but overall the offense has been bolstered by improved play on the offensive line. In the end, Michigan’s defense, ranked No. 2 overall nationally, will have the edge over what has been a struggling Spartans offense. Michigan, 26-16

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John Niyo

On paper, I'm not sure there's a single position group where you'd give Michigan State the edge over Michigan. And with the Wolverines talking openly about a "revenge tour," Jim Harbaugh shouldn't have to worry about matching Mark Dantonio's motivational magic. If the Spartans were healthier, maybe the home-field advantage would help decide this one. Instead, they'll be counting on the Wolverines self-destructing again. Michigan, 31-17

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Bob Wojnowski

The better rushing team usually wins and both will try to hammer away, but defenses will dominate. This will be decided by a few big plays and a few big mistakes, and which quarterback makes more of the former. Brian Lewerke has been turnover-prone and Shea Patterson has his skittish moments, but he’s growing more confident by the week. Adding the read-option to his arsenal opens it up, and Jim Harbaugh gets a much-needed victory. Michigan, 20-10

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